No Country for Young Men

No Country for Young Men

The “White Plague” (the Balkan term for the shrinking population) is a growing problem in the whole of Europe. In Bosnia and Herzegovina the data is clear – almost an entire town of around 5,000 citizens disappears every year. There are many reasons for this, most notably the dire economic situation and the migrations during and after the war. The two reasons are interconnected as no major investments are made in areas hit by massive war and postwar migrations. People are not motivated to return to their homes and year by year these once prosperous small villages are dying out (for example – in Serbia there are about 700 nearly extinct villages).

The Village of Krnjeusa near Bosanski Petrovac is a universal example of the “white plague” syndrome. There are no middle-aged people in the village during the day; only children and the elderly. Upon completing Krnjeusa’s elementary school the youngsters leave the village, only a few of them to ever come back. The school’s janitor Olgica testifies that the local school had over 500 students before the war and now it is down to a mere 50. In her words, today’s village of Krnjeuša is but a pale shadow of its pre-war self.

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