The Organization of Amputees UDAS Republike Srpske (Serbian: Организација Aмпутираца УДАС Републике Српске/ Organizacija amputiraca ”UDAS” Republike Srpske) is registered as a nonprofit organization and non-governmental organization based in Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina, founded by amputees which are mostly landmine victims in order to provides support for victims of landmines, unexploded ordnance (UXO), cluster munition and other persons with disabilities and their families to integrate them back into the community, thus enabling them to live normal lives.
Organization of Amputees UDAS Republike Srpske is intended to protect and promote rights of disabled population regardless of type and manner of acquiring disability. The UDAS provides assistance primarily to survivors and their families, as well as other people with disabilities with various types of projects and activities: peer support, referrals, social and economic inclusion activities, legal advising, survivors and disability rights campaign, disability arts and disabled sports.
The UDAS maintains partnership with numbers of local and regional organizations that are supporting people with disabilities and, or organizations which are working on landmine cleansing. In addition to that, UDAS has partnerships with the city of Banja Luka and Ministries on both levels: Republic of Srpska and Bosnia and Herzegovina. UDAS participated and,or created various numbers of projects and activities supported by local, republican and state government, as well as USAID, EU and Norwegian Embassy in Sarajevo.
The organization covers the entire area of the Republic of Srpska through five regional associations in Banja Luka, Doboj, Bijeljina, Istocno Sarajevo and Trebinje. It has around 4500 members, mostly victims of the mines and cluster munitions in BiH. The leaders of the UDAS are the survivors themselves. UDAS is a member of KOMA coaliction(Coalition for marginalized groups) and ICBL-CMC coaliction.
Guided by philanthropy, values of UDAS are premised on the belief that those with disabilities are entitled to lives of opportunity, independence and dignity. Moreover, society as a whole benefits when population with disability is included and empowered. UDAS mission is to promotes and protects the human rights of people with disabilities and actively supports their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes. UDAS vision is to create a prosperous society, society without barriers and prejudices (ableism) in which everybody has equal rights and equal opportunities.
In the aftermath of Yugoslav wars, disabled population in Bosnia and Herzegovina found themselves seriously disadvantaged. People with disabilities with serious lack of governmental support, faced poverty and social exclusion, unequal access to health services, prejudices and discrimination.
In order to meet the basic needs of amputees (civilian and military) and other people with disability, UDAS is founded in 2002. by mostly landmine victims. In the beginning, UDAS had a lot of educational support from former local non-governmental organization ‘Landmine Survivors Initiatives’ (LSI). The organization began as 'The Association of Amputees UDAS Srpske' but later became the 'The Organization of Amputees UDAS of Republic of Srpska'.In 2006 due to gained achievements and support given to persons with disabilities Government of Republic of Srpska declared Udas as an organisation of public interest.
During the 1992–95 Bosnian war, an estimated two million landmines were planted. Majority of locations of the landmines were not thoroughly mapped out and documented. This lack of documentation has complicated the demining process. Beside that, Bosnia’s mountainous and densely forested territory pose a major impediment to the demining process, as the best mechanical methods for demining only work on flat land. Thus, the demining process has largely been done by hand, an assuredly slow and laborious undertaking As a result of it Bosnia and Herzegovina is still one of the most mine contaminated countries in South Easter Europe region. Current size of mine suspected area in BiH covers 1,165 km2 or 2.3% of the total country size, with 1,417 affected communities, directly impacting the safety of about 538,500 people, or about 15% of the total country population. Cluster munition suspect area is 8.76 km2. An estimated 120,000 mines remain, according to the Bosnia and Herzegovina Mine Action Centre(BHMAC). For the period 1992–2013, BHMAC recorded a total of 8,319 mine/UXO casualties: 1,833 killed, 6,039 survivors, and 447 unknown. In many cases, one or more limbs had to be amputated. Than number keeps growing every year. Ten people were involved in land mine accidents in January 2014 alone, including a ten-year-old boy who died in an explosion.
In May 2014, BiH was severely affected by the worst Balkan flood in over a century. Almost one third of Bosnia is affected by floods with houses, roads and railway lines being submerged in the north eastern part of the country. One million people – approximately a quarter of the population – have been affected by the floods. Around of 70 percent of the flood-affected zones were in areas contaminated by mines. Bosnian authorities reported that the floods had moved mines, cluster munitions, and unexploded ordnance (UXO), and had damaged minefield fencing and signs. At an ammunition depot in Orašje, some 250 tons of ammunition were reported as being under water on 25 May 2014. Landmine Survivors Initiatives reported that more than 3,000 mine survivors were living in the flood-affected region.
The UDAS is constantly working to improve the quality of life of persons with disabilities. UDAS actively organizes and participate in a range of innovative projects and activities together with organizations that focus on inclusion of people with disabilities. These activities projects cover community life, healthcare, employment, legislation, art and healthy lifestyle.
Health and social welfare
In cooperation with Institute for physical medicine and rehabilitation “Dr Miroslav Zotović”, UDAS provides an individual and group peer to support people with disabilities, organizes educational seminars on topic of healthcare and social welfare, psychological counseling for disabled war veterans, amputees and mine victims. All activities are led by professional associates, doctors and specialists. Also, in co-operation with Family Medicine Service, UDAS offers referrals for CBR centers.
Landmine contamination in B&H has a significant impact on its economy. In particular branch of tourism, hunting and fishing, agriculture, animal husbandry as well as a safe use of natural resources. As a result of post-war unprosperous economy, persons with disabilities on average as a group experience worse socioeconomic situation, having to face at the same time with unemployment and prejudges especially about their employment. People with disabilities in BiH live below the poverty threshold. As a result of it persons with disabilities are usually been perceived as charity case.
In order to fight poverty, main economic strategy of UDAS is to increase the income of persons with disabilities, through improvement of employment and self-employment opportunities. To do so, UDAS in co-operation with relevant foundations and/or institutions provides support in Informal sector to people with disabilities to start up or expand small businesses (primarily in breach of livestock and agriculture), which will be run by themselves or their families. Beside that, UDAS organised various educational and business seminars, workshops, and consulting.
When it comes to various sectors of public policy, disability is an often misunderstood and stigmatized condition.For that reason, UDAS's leadership takes particular interest in implementation of advocacy, social policies and legislation for persons with disabilities.
As a disability right organisation, UDAS in co-operation with Ministries and Services worked on drafting, improvement, practical implementation and adjustment of existing laws and regulations with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Outcome of combine actions was on the creation of the Soldiers’ Rights Act, Pension and Disability Insurance Act and Social Protection Act.UDAS as well, mounted activities to train individuals with disabilities about their new rights.
UDAS offers to persons with disability a legal support in terms of legal counseling, references and writing acts to relevant institutions.
Through cultural activities, primarily through disability arts UDAS want to create a network of local and regional artists to highlight the barriers faced by persons with disabilities and promote the creative potential of artists on the local, national and regional level.
UDAS organizes various cultural and creative projects and activities for persons with and without disabilities, such as: drawing school and painting for children,workshop in creative writing, graphic workshops, art colonies, individual and collective exhibitions of art works, where priority is given to persons with disabilities. All activity have a clear psycho therapeutic aspect. Main cultural activity is doing art and handcraft.
The organization has art gallery ‘Udas', that is unique gallery in the Southeast Europe because it provides an opportunity for young students of the Academy of Fine Arts, aspiring artists and artists with and without disabilities to showcase their artwork, free of charge. Beside gallery, UDAS owns graphic workshop. Art Gallery 'Udas' is only place in Bosnia and Herzegovina where persons with disability have opportunity showcase their art work. Within the gallerie UDAS shows documentaries and movies that are associated directly or indirectly with the present time and situation in society, free of charge. Projections is led by dramaturge, who after the presentation with participants and discuss and analyze the theme the movie.
Since a healthful lifestyles is one of most important segments of rehabilitation, the UDAS encourages and supports persons with disabilities (primary amputees) to participation in sport activities, to develop confidence, independence and general health. In keeping with that UDAS financially supports The Shooting Club of amputees ‘Borac’ Banja Luka through projects and individuals through one-off aid, so amputees could participate in disabled sports. Beside that UDAS regularly organizes sections in chess,badminton and table tennis. All sports sections are led by persons who are trained to work with disabled people.