Bosnia Appeal: Life goes on despite the war

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The Independent Culture
THE charitable organisations continue to work in gruelling conditions in Bosnia, writes Joanna Gibbon. CAFOD, the Catholic aid agency, reports that central Bosnia is bitterly cold and access for convoys is still patchy. CAFOD has just given a further pounds 100,000 in response to the Winter Appeal for Bosnia by Caritas, the Catholic agency working on the ground in former Yugoslavia. Last week, Caritas - one of the largest food distributors in former Yugoslavia - managed to get three trucks of food into central Bosnia, but it says the daily situation remains volatile.

In spite of some food getting through, CAFOD says the situation is becoming worse and more money is urgently needed. Caritas' Winter Appeal needs pounds 10m to maintain the present distribution lines - and its warehouses in Split, Mostar and Kiseljak are low on stocks.

John Kent, one of CAFOD's press officers who visited Mostar last week, found the town oppressive - surrounded by high mountains - and yet full of contradictions. The town, which has been split between Muslims living on the left bank and Croats on the right, has suffered badly. The people have been isolated and buildings are badly damaged. Caritas works across the board within the local parishes distributing food to Muslims, Croats and Serbs.

But life continues, it seems, in spite of the war. Mr Kent saw a wedding take place in a makeshift Catholic church which doubles up as a food distribution point. 'It was bizarre to see a cavalcade of cars drive down a bombed-out street and a bride in a white gown appear.' he says. The war is never far away, however; inside the church 27 candles burn constantly in memory of 27 people who were killed and whose bodies have not yet been recovered from the river.

Meanwhile, Oxfam's Cold Front Appeal is still urgently appealing for 100,000 children's winter coats of all sizes - half its original target. The targets for adult coats and jerseys and children's jerseys have been reached. About two-thirds of the clothes given have already been dispatched to Bosnia. Oxfam's aim of raising pounds 1m with the appeal has now passed the halfway mark.

If you would like to support one or more of the charitable organisations please send a separate cheque for each donation, made payable to the organisation - with the wording as below - and send to: Bosnia Appeal, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB.

1 War Child; 2 Victims of War Appeal (former Yugoslavia) - this for the Red Cross; 3 Care; 4 Cafod (Bosnia); 5 Christian Aid (Bosnia); 6 Edinburgh Direct Aid; 7 Feed the Children; 8 Help the Aged Former Yugoslavia Appeal; 9 Islamic Relief Bosnia Fund; 10 Marie Stopes International (Bosnia); 11 Oxfam; 12 The Refugee Council; 13 Save the Children Fund; 14 Scottish European Aid; 15 UNA Trust Bosnia.

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