US Planes Drop Military Rations on Besieged, Hungry City of Mostar
The Milwaukee Journal, p.A4
25 August 1993.
BERLIN, Germany — The US Air Force made its first airdrop of food to the besieged city of Mostar early Wednesday, expanding American aid efforts in Bosnia.
Two Air Force C-130 cargo planes flew from Rhein-Main Air Base near Frankfurt to drop more than 13,400 military rations — known as meals ready-to-eat — into the city, US military officials said.
About 55,000 Muslims [Bosniaks] have been cut off from aid supplies for two months in Mostar, which is besieged by Croatian forces fighting Bosniak-led Bosnian troops. Relief officials fear widespread starvation.
Mostar is important to the Croatians because it would become the new capital of a Croatian-dominated mini-state called Herceg-Bosna. The Croatians also apparently want the city because it would provide themini-state with its best airport.
But Bosnian Muslims here — and many people of mixed heritage fighting with them — reject the division of the country into communal cantons.
In order to convince besieging Croat forces to relax their blockade, both the Bosniak forces and the United Nations, which mediated the talks, on Tuesday had to give in to Croatian demand to exchange war dead if UN aid would be allowed into the city.
The Bosnian Croats have not allowed the UN to deliver aid into eastern Mostar since June, except for a token amount of medicine taken in on Saturday by Cedric Thornberry, a UN official who headed a delegation into Mostar.
“The Bosnian Croats are leading us a merry dance,” said Lyndall Sachs, the Sarajevo spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
If the UN truck convoy is permitted to enter Mostar on Wednesday, it will be the first to reach the Bosniak sector of the city since June 2. The line of UN supply vehicles is said to be carrying some 200 tons of food and medical supplies.
But Tuesday’s agreementfor the passage of the convoy will only provide food for seven to eight days.
For that reason and despite the initial criticism and skepticism over their effectiveness, the air-drops have become a vital food sply for the besieged people.
So far, the operation has dropped more than 7,444 tons of goods and 144 tons of medical supplies.
There are numerous donor countries and organizations including the World Health Organizations, European Community countries, Japan, Pakistan and New Zealand, in addition to the United States.