Bosnia and Herzegovina: Resilience and the impact of daily work amid COVID-19

Snežana Bursać Aranđelović at her office, the Canton Sarajevo Public Heath Institute.
Caption: Snežana Bursać Aranđelović at the Canton Sarajevo Public Health Institute.
Photo: Imrana Kapetnovic for UNFPA

The United Nations in Bosnia and Herzegovina has been compiling a series of personal accounts highlighting the extraordinary work of individuals during COVID-19 response and recovery; marking UN75.

From ensuring that people follow basic hygiene guidelines to providing spaces for children to stay active, find out how these individuals have taken their work to the next level to ensure that the people they serve stay healthy and safe during COVID-19.  These short excerpts provide a glimpse into the work of an activist combatting human trafficking, a librarian and workers at reception centers. 


Non-compliance with COVID-19 measures and recommendations remains the biggest challenge

An epidemiologist by trade, Snežana Bursać Aranđelović’s main task since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic has been focusing on prevention and health education at the the Institute for the Public Health of Sarajevo Canton. 

Photo: Imrana Kapetnovic for UNFPA

“From my own experience, by monitoring over a hundred COVID-19 positive patients and putting all of their contacts, secondary or tertiary, under surveillance, I have to single out those who deliberately  don’t comply with measures and recommendations as the biggest challenge. The measures recommended for epidemics such as this one are very simple and very effective, and that is physical distance, wearing masks and hand washing,” she explains. 

To learn more about Snežana Bursać Aranđelović’s story, click here to read the full story


In the sea of COVID-19 Information and Statistics, We Must Find a Way to Protect Human Rights

Since 2009, Dragana Petrić has been working in the non-governmental sector. She is the coordinator of the programme for preventing and combating human trafficking at the Lara Foundation in Bijeljina.

Photo: UN Women

“During the most critical period of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lara Foundation was committed to adapting to the new circumstances and mitigating the risks and consequences of the pandemic. This implied, and still does, a wide range of action: from working directly with beneficiaries - women survivors of domestic violence and vulnerable groups of women in the field - through the delivery of aid packages; answering a large number of inquiries and requests about the current needs of the organization and our beneficiaries; to the revision of current projects and activities,” she explains.

To learn more about Dragana Petrić's story, click here to read the full story


Guardians of History in the Times of the Pandemic

Andrea Dautovic is the librarian with the Library of the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina, where she has been working since 1980.


“We continued to work [at the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina], but this time we were forced to work from home, which greatly influenced the changes in the dynamics of business and our usual, everyday work ethic. Some jobs required much more time than usual, but the quality and result of what was done remained impeccable. On the other hand, the pandemic caused a number of negative blows, especially financial ones, which additionally endangered the existence of this institution, which has been struggling for decades for the recognized place it deserves in our society,” she says.

To learn more about Andrea Dautovic's story, click here to read the full story


“Despite all these difficulties I am confident that together, we can make a difference and be responsible, for everyone’s benefit”

Azra Ibrahimović-Srebrenica is a Camp manager of the first Temporary Reception Centre, which opened in Sarajevo Canton on 24 October 2018  to host migrants arriving in increasing numbers that year. 

Photo: IOM

“The biggest challenge I personally faced while working in COVID-19 response was to maintain peace and tranquillity inside the centre. When the restrictive measures were first introduced, the centre exceeded accommodation capacities, people were closed inside the camp without the possibility to go out and to have access to shops or banks or post offices.  This is a situation in which any minor discussion can turn into violent conflict and fight. By [joining] efforts with my team, we managed to overcome these past months without any significant incidents.”

To learn more about Azra Ibrahimović-Srebrenica's story, click here to read the full story.


“I believe that the path to recovery from the coronavirus will be difficult, but above all we must show humanity and solidarity”

Jean Marc Bogmis arrived from Cameroon in 1999 to play football. Upon ending his football career in 2003, he was forced to seek asylum in Bosnia and Herzegovina due to political circumstances in his native Cameroon. Nowadays, he works as a coordinator of sports activities for children and youth at reception centers in Sarajevo with the Bosnia and Herzegovina Women's Initiative Foundation, a partner of UNHCR. 

Photo: UNHCR

“Just like for everyone else, the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted my daily life and my everyday interaction with asylum-seeking children. I had to figure out a way to continue the activities in the centers, because I knew that this situation, especially for children who have already gone through traumatic experiences, will affect their mental state, and that they should be involved in occupation activities as soon as possible. During our training, children abide to all protection measures – they have masks, gloves and physical contact is treated as a serious fault. I do admit that it can be hard to work with children because you must have charisma if you want them to follow the instructions, but I am lucky enough to possess one such charisma”.

To learn more about Jean Marc Bogmis' story, click here to read the full story.


“We must focus on how to protect human rights in humanitarian crises, to save lives as the first priority and reduce the number of potential victims of this difficult time”

Saria Aboukaf is an Empowerment Officer and a team leader, responsible for preparing weekly schedules and plans for carrying out a number of activities at the Women and Girls Center (WGC) and  Boys on the Move (BoTM) centers in Ušivak and Blažuj Temporary Reception Centres (TRC).

Photo: UNFPA

“In the wake of the pandemic and its persistent impact on each and every one of our community members, staying safe and keeping healthy during the outbreak of COVID-19 was one of my biggest challenges, keeping my family safe from one side and beneficiaries from the other side. I was sure more than ever about the importance of maintaining mental health to face the new normal, overcome fear of unknown, negativity and overthinking. Substantially overcoming personal challenges and providing help and support to those we work with was the hardest part of my mission.”

To learn more about Saria Aboukaf's story, click here to read the full story.


UN entities involved in this initiative
International Organization for Migration
UN Women
United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
United Nations Population Fund
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Goals we are supporting through this initiative