THE FRENCH BATTALION HELPS OUT CITIZENS// 11. 1993. • AZEM AGOVIC// CITIZEN
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT
THE FRENCH BATTALION HELPS OUT CITIZENS
‘The French battalion came to help drawing water from the reservoir for the inhabitants of Alipasino Polje, as there was no power. Water comes to the Alipasino Polje reservoir by free fall from the Mojmilo reservoir. However, without the help of the French battalion and others who had pumps, we couldn’t get it out, so that people went without. At the same time there was the installation of gas into homes. The settlement had 20,000 inhabitants at that time and there was no heating whatsoever. The French battalion helped to bring in the necessary equipment across the Bosnian Serb territory, since they could do it more easily than others.’
• The French UN battalion helps residents of Alipasino polje with repairs, house painting, expelling water from their basements, and bringing materials for the supply of gas.
• Death of the great Italian director Federico Fellini.
• ARBiH in conflict with the troops of Fikret Abdic in the area of Velika Kladusa.
• For weeks the city is without electricity, water, gas and humanitarian aid. The situation is worsened by the BiH delegation’s refusal to sign the peace agreement.
• The First Corps of the ARBiH issues a decision to abolish the HVO General Headquarters in Sarajevo, integrating the HVO brigade “Kralj Tvrtko” into the ARBiH 1st Corps. George Soros visits Sarajevo.
• George Soros visits Sarajevo.
• The HVO destroys the old bridge in Mostar.
• Massacre of students in Sarajevo. Classes are suspended until security measures are introduced
• UNPROFOR discontinues its service of accepting and sending letters on behalf of Sarajevans. In Split, 50 sacks of letters addressed to the people of Sarajevo are thrown into the sea.
• Another massacre of the citizens of Sarajevo.
• Presidency member Ejup Ganic refuses to receive Thorvald Stoltenberg.
• On the occasion of the massacre, American President Bill Clinton states: “The only thing we can do, if Sarajevo is shelled heavily is to receive approval by the UN for NATO and the U.S. to use airstrikes.”
• Rules introduced for the holding of classes: school sessions last 15 minutes. From December 24th till March 1st the students will have a break. Regardless there is no heating.
• Exhibition of the Sarajevan paintings “Witnesses of Existence” at the BiH Art Gallery.
• U.S. Embassy on November 10th relocates to Vienna.
• A joint declaration signed on the free movement of humanitarian convoys.
• A convoy carrying food for Sarajevo from Macedonia is held up because of ice and snow on Vlasenica. It consists of around 20 trucks. The Children’s Embassy appeals to UNPROFOR for aid.
• Symposium held on war medicine: “Medicine during War '92-'93”.
• A package arrives in Sarajevo of 960,000 candles from the Czech Republic worth about $48,000.
• The convoy of food from Macedonia is stopped in Pale.
• In Geneva, negotiations continue.
UNPROFOR, or for those who don’t know them: United Nations Protection Forces, were awaited as saviors when they first arrived in Bosnia and Herzegovina with their white vehicles and blue berets. As time went on, they proved to be powerless. Now they are helping in repairs of the infrastructure, in cleaning the city. They are also establishing bureaucratic rules of their own. In some instances proven to be good merchants, they are driving around in trucks, jeeps transporters. Children are climbing onto their vehicles, and soldiers are throwing them sweets. They transport wounded, bring humanitarian aid, drive from and to the airport. In short, nothing is done without them. UNPROFOR Headquarters is in the building of Communication Engineering at Alipasino polje. Soldiers are in the barracks which were formerly inhabited by the soldiers of the Yugoslav Peoples Army. The main Headquarters of the UNPROFOR’s commander is in a private villa. All these successions seem to be very natural.
THE UNPROFOR (the United Nations Protection Forces)
The role of the UNPROFOR was manifold. They served as hostages to the aggressor, they cleared the garbage, they rode in trams as a protection against snipers, they gave out sweets, brought flour, destroyed the surface of Sarajevo streets with their tanks and transporters, representing the only city transportation throughout a long period, they repaired electrical transmission lines, they controlled the airport... The most important form of the protection of citizens was driving the transporters next to them shielding them from the sniper fire while they were crossing the Tito street. For a long time they were the most significant part of the city’s commercial life because they were trading the goods available to them.