Dr. Simon Mardel: Horrific Situation Around Srebrenica 2 Years Before Genocide
WHO Doctor: Serbs Target Bosniak Civilians and U.N.
15 March 1993.
By Nada Buric
ZAGREB, Croatia — A British doctor who walked into war-ravaged eastern Bosnia on foot charged Sunday that Bosnian Serb troops are purposely attacking civilians and U.N. aid workers.
Dr. Simon Mardel, an expert with the World Health Organization, told reporters that up to 30 people were dying daily in Konjevic Polje and Srebrenica, two Muslim-held towns he visited over the past week. Most people died from artillery fire, but some starved, he said.
The 36-year-old Briton spoke matter-of-factly of the suffering he witnessed after walking many miles from a Serb checkpoint to Srebrenica and later from there to Konjevic Polje.
Mardel said it was essential to get to the cutoff towns because “always in such situations people the most need are in regions (that are) the most inaccessible and (from where) the least information is coming.”
On Thursday, a U.N. convoy that was to have evacuated 75 wounded people from Konjevic Polje was stopped at a Serb checkpoint and only five small vehicles were allowed through.
The next day, Mardell said, Serb artillery shot at people trying to approach the vans to get aid supplies. “Artillery was fired at civilians and centered on (the) U.N. vehicles … It was clear the targeting was getting closer and closer,” he said.
Mardel related a scene of panic and great destruction, describing how an unborn fetus spilled from the womb of a woman killed by shrapnel. He said U.N. peacekeeping soldiers braved the fire to rescue a wounded 5-year-old and tried to help people find cover.
“One U.N. military observer standing by one of the U.N. cars was covered in blood and the brains of a man,” he said. “The shrapnel wounds were horrific … After each shell we saw people being killed or wounded.”
Two U.N. vehicles were damaged in the shelling, but there were no U.N. casualties, he said.
Konjevic Polje’s 30,000 people [Bosniaks] had only one nurse and a medical technician after Mardel’s 11-man party, which included several doctors, left on Friday, he said.
He said the nurse performed amputations without anesthetics, and almost all wounds he saw were infected.
“I saw some families which had not eaten for four days,” said Mardel. “Many people I saw were just lethargically lying, which is typical for starving people.”
Aid packets parachuted as part of the U.S. airdrop provided food enough for only one day last week, he said.