Pope rewards relief group in Sarajevo

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The four groups have "distinguished themselves by their active work of relief and assistance during the difficult years of the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina and in the Republic of Croatia," the pope said.

"In a situation often marked by grave tensions and difficulties, they provided concrete signs of hope by their presence and their generous and courageous activity, and thus helped to lay the foundation for a future of reconciliation and of genuine solidarity between different peoples and cultures" in Bosnia.

Throughout the bloody 1992 to 1995 Bosnian civil war, including when Sarajevo was under a state of siege, La Benevolencija served as a key conduit of aid to Jews and non-Jews.

Supported by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Britain's World Jewish Relief, individual Jewish communities in other countries and other organizations, La Benevolencija ran a clinic, pharmacies, a post office and soup kitchen during the war. La Benevolencija also distributed free medicine, food, clothing and other necessities.