REDDITCH MP Karen Lumley has spoken of her emotional trip to Bosnia for a social action project during the parliamentary recess.
A delegation of MPs and peers travelled to Bosnia to support the Medica Zenica charity, which provides psycho-social, medical, and informational support to women and children who have been affected by conflict, including sexual violence and war-time rape.
In Bosnia, the MPs helped Media Zenica to build and equip a new counselling and information centre, which included rooms for individual counselling and group therapy sessions, a 24/7 SOS hotline for people to call for support, and a computer suite where people can access further information.
Having spent much time in Bosnia in the past, both in her work before becoming an MP and since her election, particularly as chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mrs Lumley was pleased to have had the opportunity to give her time and efforts to this vital project.
She said: “It was an extremely rewarding trip and I was pleased to have been able to do my own small part in helping victims of war crimes to rebuild their lives. In addition to helping with the Medica Zenica project we also got the opportunity to meet with Bosnian officials to discuss the issues of the country and visit the Srebrenica Memorial to pay our respects to those who lost their lives in the genocide of 1995.
"My visit to Srebrenica was very emotional. To see the site where thousands of boys and their fathers were taken from their families and killed was so very sad. We also visited the place where parts of bodies are still being found and matched with those missing. Often a parent buries just a few bones from a mass grave.
"In Zenica we met some inspirational women who work tirelessly to help those who have been so scarred by the terrible war over 20 years ago. We also met many victims of sexual violence in conflict and were able to listen to some of their shocking stories. My heart went out to them.
"The effects of these dreadful acts are still being felt today with many young people whose mothers were raped having to come to terms with who their fathers actually are. The centre not only provides psychiatric help and counselling but also provides a place of safety for those who need it."
She said that it had been an honour in some small part to make the environment of the centre better and added that Bosnia, a country that means a lot to her, should remain high on the political agenda.