It is 22 years since the Srebrenica massacre, Europe's worst atrocity since the Nazis in World War Two. In July 1995, Bosnian Serb forces under the command of General Ratko Mladic killed more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the eastern Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica, a designated United Nations "safe haven".

Srebrenica massacre
11 July 2017: People mourn near coffins of their relatives, newly identified victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, before a joint burial in Potocari near SrebrenicaDado Ruvic/Reuters

War had broken out in Bosnia in April 1992. The Bosnian Serb army swept eastwards. Srebrenica, a town of 36,000 where Muslims made up 75 percent of the population, was taken over by Serb troops but Muslims regained it after several weeks.

Radovan Karadzic
6 April 1992: A Bosnian special-forces soldier returns fire as he and civilians are shot at by Serbian snipers in SarajevoAFP
Radovan Karadzic
27 June 1992: A man supports the head of a Bosnian woman badly injured by a Serbian mortar shelling in Sarajevo as she is transported to a hospital in the back of a carAFP

Early in 1993, Serbs started an offensive on Muslim-held areas. The towns of Srebrenica and Zepa became isolated enclaves deep in Serb-held territory. Muslims from the area flocked to Srebrenica and the population swelled to 60,000. They had little food, water or medical supplies.

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31 March 1993: Bosnian Muslim refugees are transported on a UN truck in a convoy as they flee the Serb-besieged enclave of Srebrenica for TuzlaPascal Guyot/AFP
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31 March 1993: Muslim women and children eat snow in order to quench their thirst as they are evacuated from SrebrenicaReuters

In April, Srebrenica, Zepa and Gorazde in eastern Bosnia were declared three of six UN 'safe areas'. The United Nations Protection Force deployed troops and the Serb attacks stopped. However, the town remained isolated and only a few humanitarian convoys reached it in the following two years.

Then-Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadžić ordered that Srebrenica and Zepa be entirely cut off and aid convoys be stopped from reaching the towns.

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5 August 1993: Ratko Mladic, Bosnian Serb military commander, whispers into the ear of Radovan Karadzic, leader of the Serb-run part of BosniaAFP
srebrenica massacre
31 May 1993: Heavily armed Bosnian Serb soldiers patrol through a field near the town of SrebrenicaReuters
Radovan Karadzic
28 February 1994: Radovan Karadzic, Bosnian Serb warlord, sits in a car behind his wife Ljiljana after arriving in Moscow for talks with Russian officialsAFP
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28 February 1994: Dutch soldiers accompany a UN convoy of armoured vehicles on their way to Lukavac and SrebrenicaAFP

On 9 July 1995, Karadžić issued a new order to conquer Srebrenica. Troops surrounded the enclave and attacked the observation posts of Dutch peacekeepers, taking about 30 soldiers hostage. The following day, Serbian forces started shelling Srebrenica. The Dutch threatened the Serbs with Nato air strikes if they did not withdraw by morning.

The next day Nato planes bombed Serb tanks outside Srebrenica. The Serbs threatened to resume shelling and kill the captured Dutch soldiers. Air strikes stopped and in the evening of 11 July, Bosnian Serb commander General Ratko Mladic entered Srebrenica.

An estimated 30,000 Muslim refugees packed around the Dutch peacekeeping base in Potocari, just north of Srebrenica, after Bosnian Serb forces seized the 'safe area'. Mladic sought to calm them, telling the crowd they did not need to be afraid.

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12 July 1995: Bosnian Serb army Commander General Ratko Mladic hands out drinks to Bosnian Muslim refugees from Srebrenica, as the wait to be transported from Potocari to KladanjReuters
srebrenica massacre
12 July 1995: A Bosnian Muslim man helps his elderly cousin as they wait to be transported from Potocari to Kladanj near OlovoReuters
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13 July 1995: A Bosnian Serb soldier fires a machine gun during a mopping-up operation near SrebrenicaReuters
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13 July 1995: Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic shakes hands with one of his soldiers in Srebenica after they took control of the townReuters

Bosnian Serb forces put the frightened refugees on to buses to leave. Many of the refugees were evacuated to Kladanj, 30 miles away on the edge of government-held territory.

The UN noticed that most of the refugees arriving from Srebrenica were women, children, and the elderly and became concerned about the fate of the men.

srebrenica massacre
12 July 1995: Bosnian Muslim children, refugees from Srebrenica, peer from a truck as they wait to be transported from the Bosnian village of Potocari to Muslim-held Kladanj . Some 20,000 refugees fled Srebrenica after Bosnian Serbs overran the former 'safe area'Reuters
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12 July 1995: Bosnian Muslim women and children wait for transportation from Potocari to KladanjReuters
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13 July 1995: Bosnian Muslim refugees flee Srebrenica Reuters
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14 July 1995: Thousands of refugees from Srebrenica board buses at a camp outside the UN base at Tuzla AirportReuters
Radovan Karadzic
14 July 1995: A mother and two children from Serbrenica sleep on the ground outside the UN base at Tuzla airportReuters
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14 July 1995: Bosnian women and children, refugees from Srebrenica, mourn their missing men in the refugee camp at Tuzla airportReuters

Over the week that followed the fall of Srebrenica, a total of about 8,000 men and boys from the enclave are estimated to have been killed by Bosnian Serb forces in detention or while trying to flee through the woods.

Men were crammed into warehouses, schools and barns in the area outside Srebrenica. They were shot and their bodies were dumped in mass graves. Serb forces subsequently dug up the bodies and scattered them in a systematic effort to conceal the crime. UN war crimes investigators later excavated the mass graves, but over 1,000 bodies are still missing.

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Video footage shows members of a paramilitary group called the Scorpions taking six emaciated young men out of a truck with their hands tied behind their backs. They are led to a clearing, where four of them are seen being shot at close rangeHague Tribunal/Reuters
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Bulletholes pepper a wall where Bosnian Muslims were executed at an agricultural cooperative in Kravice near BratunacDado Ruvic/Reuters

Identification of the bodies is difficult: bodies were broken up by excavators that bulldozed them into mass graves. Bodies were also moved from the original graves to secondary locations to conceal the crime. Forensic experts painstakingly work through what is left of the bodies found in the hundreds of mass graves that have been discovered in the area.

Every year on 11 July, the remains of those who have been identified over the past year are buried at the Memorial Centre in Potocari.

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17 July 1995: A Dutch UN soldier cries on the shoulder of an officer upon arrival on Soesterberg military airbase in the NetherlandsReuters
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24 July 1996: The bodies of Muslims killed during the exodus from Srebrenica are seen in a grave near the eastern Bosnian village of Nova KasabaReuters
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18 September 1996: Forensic experts investigate bodies, many of them blindfolded and with their hands tied around their backs, in a mass grave outside the village of PilicaOdd Andersen/AFP
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10 July 2001: A forensic expert works in a morgue in Tuzla containing the remains of more than 3,500 Bosnian Muslim victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacreReuters
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8 June 2005: Forensic experts sort through bones and body parts found in a mass grave in the village of LipljeReuters
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9 July 2005: A Bosnian Muslim woman looks through the window of a car as she waits for 610 coffins containing the remains of victims of the Srebrenica massacre to arrive in Potocari.Damir Sagolj/Reuters
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11 July 2005: Bosnian Muslim women cry as their relative is buried in PotocariDamir Sagolj/Reuters
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22 July 2008: A Bosnian Muslim woman prays at the memorial wall, inscribed with the names of the victims, at the Potocari Memorial Centre near SrebrenicaAFP
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10 July 2012: Lightning is seen during a storm at the Memorial Centre in Potocari near Srebrenica, the night before a mass burialReuters
srebrenica massacre
11 July 2017: A woman walks among graves at the Potocari Memorial Centre, near SrebrenicaDado Ruvic/Reuters

Karadzic was indicted along with military chief General Ratko Mladic in 1995 but evaded arrest until he was captured in Belgrade, Serbia, in 2008. At the time, he was posing as a New Age healer named Dr Dragan Dabic, and was disguised by a thick beard and shaggy hair.

Radovan Karadzic
21 July 1997: A Bosnian Serb reads a local newspaper in front of a posters of Radovan Karadžić with text saying 'Don't touch him'Reuters
Radovan Karadzic
2 March 2000: David Scheffer, US ambassador at large for war crimes, points to a wanted poster showing Slobodan Milosevic, Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladic during a press conference at the US State Department in Washington, DCAFP
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22 July 2008: Bosnian Serb wartime leader and war crimes fugitive Radovan Karadžić was arrested in a suburb of Belgrade where he lived, posing as a doctor of alternative medicine, sporting long hair, a beard and glassesReuters

Mladic is on trial for genocide before a UN war crimes tribunal with a verdict expected later this year.

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Bosnian Serb wartime general Ratko Mladic in seen after his arrest in 2011Reuters

Most Serbs, both in Bosnia and Serbia whose 1990s leadership armed and funded Bosnian Serb forces, strongly deny that the massacre was genocide as judged by the UN war crimes tribunal for former Yugoslavia.

They dispute the death toll and the official account of what happened, reflecting conflicting narratives about how and why Yugoslavia broke up in bloodshed. That divide continues to hinder reconciliation and stifle Bosnia's progress toward integration with Western Europe. The Balkan country today is split into autonomous Serb and Bosniak-Croat entities.

In June 2017, a Dutch appeals court confirmed that the Netherlands was partly liable for the deaths in 1995 of some 300 Muslim males who were expelled from a Dutch UN base after the surrounding area was overrun by Bosnian Serb troops. The ruling by the Hague Appeals Court upheld a 2014 decision that Dutch peacekeepers should have known that the men seeking refuge at the base near Srebrenica would be murdered by Bosnian Serb troops if they were forced to leave – as they were.

The Dutch government resigned in 2002 after acknowledging its failure to protect the refugees, but it said then that the peacekeepers had been on 'mission impossible'.