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Women Show The Keepsakes That Remain 20 Years After Their Sons And Husbands' Slaughter

An estimated 8,000 Bosniak men and boys were slaughtered in the Srebrenica massacre.

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This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre — a Bosnian Serb-led slaughter of an estimated 8,000 Bosniak Muslim men and boys during the wars that followed Yugoslavia's breakup in the early 1990s.

Amel Emric / AP

During the height of the war between Bosnian Serbs and Bosniak Muslims over control of their section of the former Yugoslavia, the United Nations designated a total of six cities as "safe areas" where civilians would be able to receive humanitarian aid unharmed, offering only a small number of soldiers to accomplish this task. In July 1995, the lightly-armed Dutch UN peacekeepers at Srebrenica did nothing to stop a Serbian paramilitary force from taking over the city.

Meva Hodzic, 65, lost her husband, Mujo, during the massacre. His body was discovered in parts, in three separate mass graves. Hodzic keeps the key and rusted knife found with him along with some of the clay from a grave.

"It belongs to these items and they should stay together," she said of the clay to the Associated Press. "I was asked to give all this up for a museum of items found in mass graves. But, no, how can I do that if it's the only thing I have left from him?"

Mejra Djogaz's husband and all three of their sons were killed during the largest mass atrocity in Europe since World War II, which many say was an act of genocide by the Serbs against Bosnia's Muslims. Now 66, Djogaz lives alone in Srebrenica.

Djulka Jusupovic rarely looks at this tobacco box and tinder anymore. "Each time she takes them out, she remembers what the forensic experts told her when they handed them to her: Himzo, after being shot, may have still been alive when buried," AP said.

Amel Emric / AP

"Someone would make fire with this in his garden in the morning, then everybody would come with a piece of wood to light it and take it home to make a fire," the 65-year-old woman said of the tinder, a relic of a city that was besieged even after the UN declared it a "safe area."

Remzija Delic, 58, sees the husband she lost, Sabit, every day as she wakes. Her father, two brothers, and several nephews were also killed.

Amel Emric / AP

She also says that one her neighbors is the Bosnian Serb army soldier who separated them twenty years ago. "As Sabit was trying to board the bus transporting the Srebrenica women to government-held territory .., the neighbor grabbed him by the back and yelled: 'No. Not you,'" the AP reported her as telling them. "He pushed him over to the crowd of men chosen for killing."

Hayes Brown is a world news editor and reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Hayes Brown at hayes.brown@buzzfeed.com.

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