World Bulletin / News Desk
Ballet slippers, tinned food and drawings by a sister killed from shelling are found among the objects in a new Sarajevo museum used to tell stories of life during Bosnia's war through the eyes of children.
An unfinished letter, kept safe by a young Bosnian woman for 20 years, was started by her mother who perished when their apartment was shelled in the Balkan country's 1992-1995 civil war.
To obtain such personal and treasured possessions, "you have to create trust," said Jasenko Halilovic, the 28-year-old founder of the newly opened War Childhood Museum.
During Bosnia's inter-ethnic conflict nearly 3,400 Muslim children were killed, including 1,500 in the capital Sarajevo. The city was besieged for 44 months by Belgrade-backed Bosnian Serb forces, who launched shells and sniper fire from the surrounding mountains.
Among them was 17-year-old Aida, hit by artillery shells at the entrance to her family's home. She loved to draw Disney characters, including Minnie Mouse with a tear sliding down her cheek. Her sister Selma donated the sketches to the museum.
'Message against war'
Some of the collection is less tragic but equally poignant. Mela Softic donated the ballet slippers she would dance in as a way to "disconnect from reality".
When she put on the ballet shoes and played some classical music, "I was no longer in war, in Sarajevo, but in a fairy tale," she recalled.
Softic, now 32, believes the museum is "the best place possible" for her cherished mementoes of that time in her life.
The collection consists of around 4,000 objects, accompanied by short texts, and those on display will be rotated so that the exhibition is renewed, said Selma Tanovic, a 36-year-old anthropologist and head of research.
Along with photos and diaries detailing the day-to-day drama, the dozens of exhibits now on display include a hat pierced with shrapnel, a makeshift stove, stuffed animals, a television and a bicycle.
"We do not mean, of course, to minimise the trauma that children have suffered," Tanovic said.
"But we want to emphasise the resistance of children, the way they overcame the cruel conditions of their childhood."
All the stories are meant to convey "a strong message against war," she said.
Art of survival
Filip Andronik, who was 11 when war broke out, turned his months sheltering in the basement of his building into an exercise in the art of the survival.
When his family received their first supplies of tinned meat, provided by aid workers, he decided to keep the empty packaging to joke about once the war was over.
"But the war continued, and so did the humanitarian aid," said Andronik, now a comedian and comic book writer.
He collected more than 2,000 pieces of packaging from wartime food and toiletries.
"I handed over my entire collection to the War Childhood Museum."
Halilovic, who has also compiled a book of children's wartime testimonies, wants to make the museum a platform for "dialogue and reconciliation" in Bosnia, which remains deeply divided along ethnic lines of Bosniak Muslims, Croats and Serbs.
'Common to all of us'
The new museum mostly displays belongings of children from Sarajevo, a predominantly Muslim city, but Halilovic also wants to tell the stories of youngsters caught up in different sides of the conflict.
He is now looking for objects from places such as Banja Luka in the north, the capital of Bosnian Serbs, and the southern city of Mostar, divided between ethnic Croats and Muslims.
"I think it's a wonderful idea to tell the stories of children in all the cities... regardless of which side they grew up on," said Emina Omanovic, who donated her red bicycle to the museum.
"It's something common to all of us, the children who grew up during the war."
Voters cast their ballots under high-security measures after Thursday’s terrorist shooting in the French capital
The act disregards human life, Northern Ireland Secretary Brokenshire says
First results say centrist Macron, far-right Le Pen go through to run-off in French vote
In an interview with Italian daily La Stampa, Sicily-based prosecutor Carmelo Zuccaro made his most specific claims yet over NGO activities off Libya, which the EU border agency Frontex recently described as tantamount to providing a "taxi" service to Europe.
Israeli police arrest 18-year-old Palestinian suspected of attacking Israelis at Tel Aviv hotel
"The posters are printed by the candidates themselves and it is up to them to hand them in to the electoral commission before the deadline" of April 10, the ministry said.
It marked the first loss for the security body's Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) in Ukraine since Europe's only war began more than three years ago.
Camp Lemonnier, home to some 4,000 US soldiers and contractors, is vital to US military operations in Somalia against militant groups like Al-Shabaab, and also provides support for US operations in Yemen, where special forces regularly carry out drone strikes against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
Victims were caught in fight between ISIL and Iraqi forces
"Let's see if we can go eat them for breakfast," he says with an ominous chuckle.
Mass abstentions could mar one of the most unpredictable presidential elections in France's recent history
The Palestinian medical sources said dozens of residents from the hardline settlement of Yitzhar went to the neighbouring village of Urif and threw stones at residents who responded in kind.
After tense negotiations with security forces blocking their way, protesters in Caracas were allowed to march to their destination, the headquarters of the Catholic bishops' conference.
On Saturday, police arrested a man carrying a knife at Paris's Gare du Nord station, briefly causing panic as some passengers rushed out of the way.
The UN has accused the Nsapu rebellion of using child soldiers and committing several atrocities, while also denouncing the disproportionate use of force by the military.
Charles Taylor was elected Liberia's president from 1999 to 2003, when he also supported Revolutionary United Front rebels in neighbouring Sierra Leone.