We never expected that July 1995 would happen - it was the biggest failure in the history of mankind, especially the international community that was responsible for what happened in this area, Ludy de Vos, the Commander of the UN Mission's Dutch battalion in Srebrenica, said on the occasion of the funeral for 33 victims of the Srebrenica genocide.
“Our mission was to protect the safety of the people in the 'UN's safe area' and to try to separate the Serb forces from the civilian population, refugees and Bosnian soldiers who were outside of the safe area,” said Vos who returned to this Eastern-Bosnian town 25 years later.
“At first, we weren't aware that something terrible would happen. We tried to offer some hope to the people in the safe zone. I did notice some changes in the safe area at the end of my mission and the Serb soldiers who were near the safe area were getting stronger and threatened that something terrible would happen,” noted, adding that they never expected that such a thing would happen.
Vos, whose mission lasted from July 1994 to January 1995 said he served in many other mission across the world, but that Srebrenica invokes many memories for him.
“Even though I wasn't there till the very end, it left a huge mark on me, and many other Dutch soldiers – even those who were never there. It took a lot of courage to return to Srebrenica,” Vos added.
What accelerated his return to the city was the fact that he learned that one of his acquaintances from Srebrenica, with whom he established communication, is still alive. He thought he was dead.
“I returned to see what's happening in Srebrenica today. I wanted to see the graves of the killed Srebrenica men and boys and to see what people are and are not capable of doing. I wanted to see if the people continued living their lives and what's the situation now – without the war,” Vos concluded.
He ended his short interview with Anadolu Agency by remembering the former soldiers, his colleagues who committed suicide for feeling guilty that they could not stop the events in Srebrenica.
In April 1993 the UN had declared the besieged enclave of the eastern Bosnian town of Srebrenica a safe zone under the UN protection.
However, in July 1995 the Dutch battalion failed to prevent the town's capture by the Bosnian Serb forces and the massacre that followed.
More than 8,000 Bosniak men and boys were killed in the genocide committed in the days after 11 July 1995, and so far the remains of more than 6,600 have been found and buried.
The UN's International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) ruled in 2004 that the massacre of the Srebrenica, the enclave which was declared the UN's safe zone in 1993, constituted a genocide. The ruling was upheld by the International Court of Justice in 2007.
The remains of 33 victims are set to be buried on July 11 at the Potocari Memorial.