Daily Times, p.A12
25 November 1993.
Aid Rushes to Central Bosnia, But Arrives Too Late for Some
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — The first convoys to reach central Bosnia in four weeks began unloading food Wednesday. But it was too late for some: Bosnian officials reported 11 people dead of hunger or cold.
“We’re trying to pump in as much aid as possible,” said Peter Kessler, spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.
One convoy unloaded food in the central town of Vitez and another in Travnik. Both were to proceed Thursday to a U.N. depot in Zenica, 35 miles northwest of Sarajevo, said Cmdr. Idesbald van Biesebroeck, a spokesman for U.N. peacekeepers in Sarajevo.
More than 1 million people in central Bosnia are hungry and need donated food, Kessler said. It was not clear how far the 370 tons of food on the two convoys would stretch.
Other U.N. trucks from Serbia reached the Muslim enclaves of Tuzla and Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia, said Lyndall Sachs, a U.N. relief agency spokeswoman in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. A third eastern-bound convoy, headed for the Bosniak town of Zepa, was to continue on its route today.
Aid shipments have assumed new importance with the early arrival of winter and a four-week gap in deliveries. Across Bosnia, and estimated 2.7 million people are at risk from cold and starvation.
Bosnia’s Institute of Public Health said today that 11 people had died of hunger or cold in the past week, including seven at a hospital in Pazaric, 10 miles west of Sarajevo, for the mentally and physically disabled.
The U.N. convoys from Serbia set off Wednesday after Yugoslav authorities agreed to temporarily ease new customs clearance requirements that the United Nations had denounced as bureaucratic harassment.
U.N. convoys to central Bosnia were suspected Oct. 26, the day after a Danish driver of an aid truck was shot to death.
Kessler appealed to residents for patience if they did not receive food immediately.
“More convoys will come,” he said. “There’s no need to be anxious.”
U.N. officials hope as many as 10 convoys a day will move into central Bosnia within a week.
One convoy of 36 British army trucks, carrying 273 tons of flour, headed northward to Zenica through Vitez over a supply route that had been closed by Bosnian Croat militia for almost two weeks.
The other Zenica-bound convoy, 10 trucks carrying flour, milk powder and other food, stopped off in Travnik after staying overnight at the Serb-held city of Banja LUka in northwestern Bosnia.
Kessler originally had said the convoys would not unload food en route to Zenica, and it was not immediately clear why the plan changed.