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Nov 01 2013

The Tunnel of Hope

This week’s Foto Friday is ‘a symbol of human courage, confidence, and bravery.’  In what was apparently the longest ever siege of a city, this tunnel brought hope to people in a city that was almost completely surrounded by the enemy from 1992-1995.

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The city I am referring to is… Sarajevo.

The airport was the only link between Sarajevo and the free Bosnian territory, which was on the other side of the airport.  The UN were based there so they could provide much needed humanitarian aid.  However, people tried to get to the other side for more supplies, to escape, and to see loved ones but this journey, even at night, was often fruitless and even dangerous.  If caught by the UN, they would be sent back but there was an even greater risk of being killed by snipers.

That’s when, in 1993, they dug a tunnel 800m long underneath the airport runway, starting from both sides simultaneously.  I assume it was good judgment rather than luck that the two halves of the tunnel did eventually join up to create the tunnel they needed to get from one side to the other.

Once ready, this tunnel helped in many ways.  It assisted the Bosnian Army’s military operations, provided people with more food, and they managed to get a telephone cable, an oil pipeline, and a high-voltage electric cable through the tunnel.

The house, which was and still is owned by the Kolar family, is where one of the original entrances to the tunnel was built.  It is now a museum with artifacts and photos from the war, a video about the tunnel, and there is a small section of the original tunnel that you can walk through.  This is a private museum that doesn’t receive any government funding so the money they raise from visitors is crucial to keeping it going.  They want to build a permanent monument there in the future because of its significance.

Location

It’s quite a way out of the city centre.  If you have a car, you can drive.  If you don’t, then you’d be better to go as part of one of the many organised tours.  That’s what I did because I really didn’t want to miss it.  You can see where it is on this map…

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Have your say

Have you been to this or another escape tunnel?  What was it like?

About the author

Teresa Keane

Teresa has been to almost 60 countries. She started travelling independently at the age of 38 when she gave up her job, rented out her house, put her possessions in storage and spent a year travelling the world. It changed her life. She now creates, publishes, & promotes online travel content and is an experienced freelance trainer & EFL teacher.

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