Neira

Yugoslavia

This is
Neira Becar (1983)

Country of origin
Yugoslavia (former)

In the Netherlands since
1993

Lives in Amsterdam
14 years

Residential
Amsterdam East

Profession
Employee VU International Office

Yugoslavia in Amsterdam
‘Be together with people from former Yugoslavia, eating Šljivovica, drinking and listening to Sevdah, the traditional music which I still listen too. Songs that carry the soul of the country and the culture.'

Misses
‘How it feels when you're done. When I travel by plane and ground in Yugoslavia I get a certain feeling. I miss this feeling: when I give my passport at the Sarajevo customs and this employee says 'Great to have you here'.

Still would like to
go to the Anne Frank house 

“I was ten when we had to run away from Sarajevo. I still remember that time. Moments such as when a grenade hit a neighbours house and we ran into the basement to hide. And my mother, brother, sister and I fleeing to Croatia when the war got even worse, as it was safer than in Bosnia. My father stayed behind and there weren’t any working phones, so it was impossible to contact him. There was a whole year where we didn’t know if he was alive or dead. Only after that year was it possible for my father to escape and join us. Only then did we know he had survived. It was almost impossible to appreciate that he was with us once again.


With the situation in Yugoslavia still unsafe, we went to the Netherlands. At the time we arrived as refugees, people were generally interested and shocked at how we had made our way here. People were much more human than they are now. Now they only look at numbers, statistics, without looking at what these people have been through. But let me make one thing clear: becoming a refugee is not a choice. It is the survival instinct. You can not imagine running from a grenade, from the safety of your own home.

I wouldn’t want to live in any other city in Holland. That’s not out of disrespect, but because I appreciate Amsterdam. Dutch tolerance is often overestimated. Tolerance is not the same as acceptance. Finding it OK that someone exists is not the same as accepting them. It is in Amsterdam that the most acceptance exists.

The first time I returned to Sarajevo after the war was extremely difficult. I was in the street where our house once stood and realised, with much pain, that we had been forced to leave. Various members of our family had lived there together, and now it is completely destroyed. The house we left behind does not look the same. But some things are impossible to destroy and these are things you can always have with you. Such as the funny side of Bosnian life. A great example of this is a beautiful photograph of a woman taken during the ugliest period of the war. She’s wearing heels and her make-up is perfect. This is how she protests against the war. A message to the snipers: if she’s going to go, she’s going to go in style.”

27 people in Amsterdam have the Former Yugoslavian nationality

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