HUNGER IN SARAJEVO // 07. 1993.
TOMO KNEZEVIC // HUMANITARIAN ORGANIZATION CARITAS
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

July 1993

Tomo Knezevic
Humanitarian Organization Caritas
HUNGER IN SARAJEVO

‘Caritas, was the only humanitarian organization able to get through all barricades. Sometimes more sometimes less. Not only Caritas from the Bosnian archbishopric but from the whole of our metropolitan. The basic principle was that Caritas’ great heart opened all doors, which were often hermetically shut, because Caritas strove with all its heart to help everyone. In Sarajevo according to documentation, which we got in written form, aid was distributed 41% to Bosniacs-Muslims, 40% to Croats, 15% to Serbs and 14% to others. That was for food. Medicines were given on prescription. We always asked for people’s ID card, refugee card or some other valid document. Because I understand that hungry people, sometimes even with good intentions, tried to get to food any way they could.’

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JULY 1993


• Speaking of the peace plan for BiH, Lord Owen announces: “With this division Musilims will not just get the 10% they control but more than they expect.”
• 300 American Marines are sent to Macedonia.
• Hunger strike at the City Assembly.


• Great public interest in the departure of convoys.
• Jean Cote appointed new Chief Commander of UN troops.
• A coordination committee established for the local Croat community. Dr. Ante Kovacevic announces: “All those who wish to defend the whole of BiH are welcome.”


• Vuk and Danica Draskovic, opposition leaders in Belgrade, in prison. Vuk Draskovic launches a hunger strike in protest.
• Countless barricades set up from Split to Sarajevo. Conducting humanitarian missions becomes impossible.
• HUNGER in Sarajevo. Gardens and balconies become the only sources of food.
• A Sarajevan actor says: “Sire, the actors are dying! On stage I act as if I were sated and we will keep on performing even if there are two catafalques on stage in which actors are truly dying.”


• Russian withdraw from Cuba, having first arrived in 1962.
• Hunger strikers at the City Assembly lose 1-3kg daily.


• Sarajevo becomes HELLISH.


• Although there is no oil, the TV news is still broadcast.
• Almost all work is suspended at hospitals. There are no diagnoses, and doctors skip tests before operations. Even when there is oil, the generators cannot provide enough power to operate the medical equipment.
• Lord Owen calls on the BiH government and the President of the Presidency, Alija Izetbegovic, to agree to the division of the country as soon as possible.


• The Presidency of the City Assembly ends its hunger strike under pressure from doctors and public appeals. Once the strike ends they announce: “Our conditions have not been met, but we’re terminating the strike.”
• Prices at the market: Cooking oil - 30 DM; 1 kg flour - 10 DM or 2 packs of cigarettes.


• Convoys prevented from leaving the city.
• The Draskovics are released from prison, after receiving a visit from Lord Owen who announces this to Slobodan Milosevic.
• Designer Josip Nose fashions a regulator for gas.


• Susan Sontag comes to Sarajevo to direct a performance of “Waiting for Godot.”


• 8,000 new UN soldiers arrive to BiH.


• Publication of the diary of Sarajevan girl Zlata Filipovic.


• Promotion of the slogan of the season, months, years, the ultimate slogan of the siege: “With cigarettes you’re never alone”.


• The famous Nazi war criminal hunter, Simon Wiesenthal, makes an appeal to former camp inmates and members of the resistance movement during the Second World War: “speak out against the barbarism and brutality in Bosnia.”


• Geneva, July 27, 1993. In Geneva, the peace conference on Bosnia continues. Participants include: Alija Izetbegovic, Slobodan Milosevic, Franjo Tudjman, Mate Boban, Radovan Karadzic. Co-chairs: Lord David Owen and Thorvald Stoltenberg.


• New rules: Expecting mothers in Sarajevo must bring with them to the hospital when about to give birth: bed sheets, diapers, soap and water. Immediate after giving birth they must go home.
• The humanitarian organization “Caritas” asks for its own airplane, seeing UNHCR status.


• Peace negotiations in Geneva: Ceasefire signed and free passage for a convoy of humanitarian aid, as well as non-aggression towards UNPROFOR.
• The Bosnian Serb Army attacks UN troops, but air strikes are absent.
• Geneva, July 30, 1993. In Geneva at the peace negotiations, Izetbegovic, Karadzic and Boban order an end to the war. They agree that daily meetings will be held at Sarajevo Airport between the commanders of the armed forces, together with UNPROFOR commanders. Owen and Stoltenberg offer a new compromise peace plan for BiH. Under this plan the country will be divided into three republics, but not along ethnic lines, and will be under loose federal control.


• Geneva: BiH remains a single country within its existing borders, with three republics not formed exclusively on the basis of nationality.
• The U.S.A. seeks support from France and the U.K for air strikes to lift the siege of Sarajevo.

Philanthropic organizations

Philanthropic organizations are Merhamet, Caritas, Dobrotvor, Adra, Support to its members and sympathizers gives too the Croatian philanthropic organization called Napredak. Although some of these organizations help their members first, and although some of them are based on religious affiliation, Merhamet-Muslim, Caritas-catholic, Dobrotvor - Serbian Orthodox, they are open for the members of other groups. Many are on all lists, in this poverty. Caritas and Adra even bring letters to home addresses. The Jewish community, jevrejska opstina, established the War Kitchen, which is open to all.

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