US has been a strong partner and friend of BiH for the past 25 years

SARAJEVO, November 20 (FENA) – The U.S. has been a strong partner and friend of BiH for the past 25 years, providing about USD 2 billion in assistance since 1995 to support reconstruction, humanitarian assistance, modernization of the defense sector, economic development, and education, announced the US Embassy to BiH today.

This has continued through the Covid-19 pandemic with support in the form of medical and disinfection supplies and an investment of more than $3.7 million to support laboratory systems and public health efforts.

As we continue to look forward, here is just a sample of the ways in which the United States is continuing to engage and support the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the US Embassy stated the support to young leaders. In that context, they pointed out that in November of 2019, the Embassy launched BOLD (Bh. omladinski lideri), a project that expands our support of the next generation of leaders.  BOLD is now a network of more than 2500 young people aged18-35 committed to contributing to the future of BiH.  BOLD supports these leaders through fellowships in the United States, grants to support their projects, mentoring, in-country workshops and more.

Supporting economic development, the Embassy said that in August 2020, USAID launched a five-year Developing Sustainable Tourism Project in Bosnia and Herzegovina, known as Turizam, which will provide USD 20 million to support the growth of tourism in BiH.

USAID also launched activities to strengthen local civil society in BiH through five initial grants to local organizations, ranging between USD 500k and USD 2 million each.

LocalWorks/Snaga Lokalnog promotes sustainable development by helping local communities identify and address their own problems. Through 2022, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Energy Resource (ENR) will continue providing assistance to strengthen the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s ability to provide effective oversight of early exploration and development in the country’s nascent hydrocarbon sector, realize potential revenues from oil and gas development, and strengthen the safeguarding of environment and communities in oil exploration regions.

USAID is supporting BiH’s energy security with technical assistance for reforms to electricity and gas laws to integrate BiH to the European Energy Community as well as feasibility studies for the Southern Interconnector Gas Pipeline to Croatia.

The embassy also states that in the segment of the fight against corruption the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) invests USD 3 million each year to support rule of law and anti-corruption in BiH.  The Department of Justice’s OPDAT program trains and mentors national-level prosecutors on corruption cases, and INL supplements this training with grants to civil society meant to increase awareness of corrupt practices.  USAID also supports selected justice sector institutions to better combat corruption, economic, and organized crimes, through its Judiciary Against Corruption Activity (JACA) and also empowers and promotes civil society as the most credible anti-corruption force in the country, ensuring strong action against corruption.

When it comes to support for security the State Department recently awarded Bosnia and Herzegovina USD 2.5 million in Foreign Military Financing to enhance the communication network capabilities of the BiH Ministry of Defense.

The United States is contributing USD 34 million towards the Ministry of Defense’s purchase four Huey-2 (UH-2) helicopters which will enable the Armed Forces of BIH to provide much-needed support to civil authorities during natural disasters.

The Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina (AFBIH) will host a bilateral military exercise between the AFBIH and the U.S. Army Europe in May 2021.  About 800 U.S. soldiers will participate in the Immediate Response 21 exercise, spread across three locations within BIH. This will be the largest bilateral exercise ever hosted by the AFBIH, the US Embassy posted on its website.

In the segment of health and safety, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides real-time, regulatory grade air quality monitoring data to inform policy-makers and civil society of best practices to reduce air pollution causes and to mitigate its effect on public health.

The United States is assisting BiH in its efforts to implement the BiH National Strategy against trafficking in persons, providing funding to train judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement to assist and protect victims as well as bring convictions against those who engage in this heinous crime.

The United States is the sole donor for the Mine Free Sarajevo project which will be completed early next year.  To date, the United States has funded the return of more than 35.7 million square meters of cleared land back to local populations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the US Embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina also stated.