Bosnian refugees arrive in Britain

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The Independent Online
TWO HUNDRED Bosnian Muslim refugees, including men who were tortured in Serb-run detention camps, flew into Stansted airport yesterday.

The Boeing 757 from Zagreb brought 104 former camp detainees and their families. Relatives of some of the 68 refugees who arrived in Britain for medical treatment in September were also on board the aircraft, which was chartered by the International Organisation of Migration on behalf of the Home Office. Most looked fit, although some were limping or walking on crutches.

The refugees, who have been granted six-month visas, were taken from Stansted to reception centres in London, Cambridgeshire and Surrey. They will be found accommodation after an initial resettlement period.

The ex-detainees, who declined to give names for fear of reprisals against their families in Bosnia, are among 1,000 entering Britain as part of the international refugee effort. They have spent several weeks in a UN camp.

A man aged 44 who spent five months in Manjaca camp in northern Bosnia said Serbian soldiers beat the inmates regularly. 'At other times we were led away for questioning and beaten and tortured to admit to things we did not even know about.'

He said each detainee received only 2.5kg (5.5lbs) of bread each month. 'What is happening in former Yugoslavia is not a war; it's a slaughter of Muslims and Croatians. All the technology and weapons of the Yugoslav army have been turned on these people. Western troops should have gone in a long time ago.'

The man's 18-year-old son, who was in the same camp, said that he saw people beaten with sticks and spades. 'I feared for my life and I still can't really believe that I'm free.'

Another 55-year-old man said that detainees in Trnobolje camp, where he was held for five months, were given no food. He lost 20kg (3st) in weight. 'People from the villages brought us some bread, but it was very difficult. We slept on concrete in plastic tents. Hygiene conditions were awful. Many people were killed in the night by the Serbian army.'

Ashdown calls for troops, page 7

Peace plea to voters, page 10

Andrew Marr, page 19

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