In 1993: Cold, Hunger, and Death in Srebrenica
More misery for Srebrenica refugees
The Times-News, p.5A
2 April 1993.
Tuzla, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — A family of eight shared one blanket. A night’s shelter cost more than 30 pounds of precious corn, so most people slept on the street or in shelled, roofless buildings.
This has been the life of many Muslims [Bosniaks] on the run from Serbs for up to a year.
Thousands of refugees poured into the eastern town of Srebrenica in recent weeks seeking food, shelter and safety. What they found was more freezing nights, during which they warmed themselves around street bonfires and ate horse meat to survive.
Most of the refugees came from nearby Cerska and Konjevic Polje after the Serbs launched a blistering attack in early March. Hemmed in by front lines, Srebrenica was the only town they could reach. But the town was nearly as desperate as the refugees because it has received little aid since Dec. 10.
U.N. refugee officials say they have enough food and blankets for the people trapped in Srebrenica but cannot get the aid past Serb lines into the town.
This week about 5,000 refugees, most of them women, children and old men, jammed U.N. trucks and were evacuated to the relative comfort and safety of Tuzla.
Crowded into a sports hall in this government-held town 45 miles north of Srebrenica, they are exhausted and brokenhearted. Along the way, some have lost husbands and wives, brothers and sisters.
“It was snowing and raining and we were outside,” said Safeta Turnadzic, who trudged for days with three children, carrying her son, Admir, 13, his scalp shredded by shrapnel.
Admir was wounded when two shells ripped through the roof of his Cerska home as the Serbs advanced. The family fled to Konjevic Polje. When that town fell soon after, they trudged on to the village of Jaglice.
“But no one could treat my child,” said Mrs. Turnadzic, “I had to go to Srebrenica.”
There, the refugees received a welcome as cold as the streets.
“Some houses had space, but we had nothing to give. They asked 15 kilos (33 pounds) of corn for one night.”
That was all the food she had, Mrs. Turnadzic said. She couldn’t give up her family’s only means of survival, so they stayed on the street, baking and eating one loaf of corn bread a day.
Srebrenica residents “didn’t even let us take water,” she said. “You had to give them something and then they gave you water.”
Hasnija Osmanovic, 65, and others sayd residents took humanitarian aid dropped by U.S. planes and would not share it with the refugees.
“Only some people with money could get that aid,” she said.
Thirteen-year-old Ibran Hodzic remembers a man killing a horse because it was being fed a handful of oats. Larry Hollingworth of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said last week after leaving Srebrenica that he saw people eating meat from a horse hoof.
The eight-member Hajdarevic family left their village of Vlasenica last April during the first Serb sweep through ethnically mixed eastern Bosnia.
They lived in a forest for about a month, then moved to Cerska, where a relative gave them one small room. By fall, they had to move on again — to Konjevic POlje and then Srebrenica, where they took refugee in a roofless building.
“We slept on the floor,” said Alija, 16. “We borrowed one blanket and all of us slept under it.”
“My mother was begging for food,” the girl said. “We had some old corn, but most of the time we were hungry.”
Hanifa Hajdarevic’s husband was killed fighting on Jan. 7. Their youngest child was born two months later. But the 20-day-old boy and the woman’s 5-year-old daughter were crushed to death in the U.N. truck that brought them to Tuzla.
“Oh my children, where are you now?” Mrs. Hajdarevic sobbed.