CBM is a grassroots multi-ethnic peace organisation which aims to identify and advance the common concerns of citizens, empowering communities to work together and establish means of peaceful co-existence. Active since 2001, Community Building Mitrovica (CBM) operates in the region around Mitrovica, northern Kosovo. CBM projects focus on rebuilding the community links between the many ethnic groups in the region that were destroyed by the ethnic conflict of the Kosovo war, by providing facilitation and mediation of inter-ethnic dialogue, advocacy for those promoting social integration and capacity building of civil society.
CBM works in a number of areas, such as supporting the development of an objective and independent media, the reintegration of communities with mixed populations, and the return of refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). It also cooperates with other NGOs and supports many concrete grassroots projects which address the direct needs of the local communities.
Returning Refugees Project
When the Danish Refugee Council concluded that Serb refugees were uninterested in returning, and decided to withdraw from the village of Rudnik, northern Kosovo, CBM stepped in. Seeing difficult security and political barriers, rather than disinterest, as the real cause for the low return rate of Serb refugees, CBM set about organising meetings and building trust in order to facilitate return and reintegration. Through meetings, counselling and events, the project was able to build a dialogue between the receiving community and IDPs, resulting in 27 Serb refugees attending a community meeting in the village that ended in a commitment, on the part of all stakeholders involved, for their eventual return.
CBM’s successful mediation between refugees and the receiving community in the village was seen as such a good example that United Nations in Kosovo (UNMIK) officials asked CBM to present their work as a ‘how to’ example.
CBM is currently working on the second stage of the project to see the actual return of the Serb refugees.
Respite for Children
The Respite for Children project was one of CRM’s initiatives to provide a space where divided communities can be brought together away from daily political tensions and security threats, allowing them to move past painful war memories, loss of mutual confidence and ethnic tension. Respite for Children took a group of Albanian and Serbian children on holiday to the Netherlands and provided a neutral and conflict-free environment where children and youth could share their experiences and meet each other in peace without pressure from adults.
The children experienced a way of life where ethnic conflict was not dominant and took a badly needed break from their insecure surroundings, giving them valuable experience and lessons from living in an integrated environment that they could take back into their everyday lives and communities.
"We visited the zoo and different parks and now when I think back I do not know what to separate as special since everything there was so special; no barb wires, no police and soldiers, no enclave and living in fear, no harassments and violence, no divided city as here! At least for a few days, I had not to think of going back home before the dark while I play around the burnt and destroyed houses or catching the bus, which you never know whether it will be attacked or not or people that look at you like you are so different from them. I will never forget Holland and Breda community and the great moments that we had there, in the camp and everywhere else we have been. The people that I met there, will remain in my heart, I will always, always remember them!" Participant - 9 years old, Mitrovica, Kosovo.