Sunday, June 7, 2009

Surrounded by garbage

One of the challenges of living in the war, that probably doesn't first come to one's mind, is what to do with all the garbage. Sarajevo didn't have a regular garbage collection service during the war, for several obvious reasons: it was too dangerous to collect, the city dumps were outside of the siege area, and the city didn't have the resources since almost nobody was working and paying taxes.

The garbage first started accumulating around the neighbourhood trash containers, but they were quickly overflowing. This picture really shows just a minor problem. Then we were just piling it onto a parking lot. Our neighbourhood, Dobrinja, was in a particularly bad shape because it was under an extra tight siege. If I could find a picture of that trash scene somewhere, it would truly speak for a thousand words. The piles were humongous; They would start with just a few trash bags, and as people added to it over the months the pile would reach 100 ft in diameter and 3 stories high. After some point it would be too high to throw on top of it, so it would just continue expanding on the perimeter.

The garbage from these mini-hills would get collected maybe five times a year by the UNPROFOR's scoop and dump trucks, the only ones who were able to drive outside the city limits. Even their vehicles working on the neighbourhood dumps were often under fire from the snipers on the hills.

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