They call it "Wagonowski" or the wagon camp--a refugee settlement
near where the town of Caplijina used to be. The town is no
more, reduced to rubble about two years ago. Instead, people
live in an old railway yard, specifically inside about seventy
train cars latched together in long, parallel lines. Most
of the 200 or so people in the camp have been there for at
least two years. One family lives in each car--usually four
or five people--without hot water, showers, stoves or flush
toilets. Yet now that they can begin to think about returning
to their old lives, many aren't sure they want to leave the
makeshift village of rail cars.
"It's a tough life, but in the camp, they're secure. They
have refugee status," says Carol Georgeson, one of the camp's
relief workers. "Once they leave, they're on their own. They
may not have a home any more and there are no jobs to return
Holding bowls and buckets, the camp's residents, which include
about seventy children, line up for their meals outside a
single wagon in the middle of the camp. Their food comes from
United Nations supply trucks. Moira Kelly, a relief worker
who has labored with Mother Theresa in Calcutta, nurtured
crack babies in the Bronx and treated abandoned children in
Romania, is in charge of the camp.
"Life is hard and everyone is suffering," says Kelly. "But
they don't ask for themselves. When a women's rights group
came into the camp offering counseling to the women who had
been raped, they declined. The women said, 'Don't come to
me. I'm alive. I survived. We're worried about the men who
were taken to the concentration camps.'"
In recent weeks the camp's staff has considered celebrating
the peace accord. But, in truth, no one knows what it means.
"The people have heard about peace so many times. They're
very cynical about it," says Georgeson. They're equally cynical
about the promise that they'll be able to move back home.
"They've been told that if someone is living in their house,
they can move them out and that if their house has been destroyed,
a new one will be built," says Georgeson. "That sounds good
on paper. But people don't believe it."