Bosnia Appeal: Help the desperate people of Bosnia now

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The Independent Online
WINTER has bitten Bosnia-Herzegovina quickly and hard. The snow and the long, frozen days and nights, where temperatures dip to minus 25C, have arrived much earlier than anticipated. Even though they are exhausted and pessimistic about an impending catastrophe in Bosnia, volunteers and staff of international relief agencies are redoubling efforts to help the 2.7 million people in former Yugoslavia who are entirely dependent on aid.

In the past few weeks, United Nations convoys have slowly been moving food and, occasionally, materials for shelter and warmth into central Bosnia and the besieged Muslim enclaves. In the last week of November the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees transported 2,700 tons of food, nowhere near its 8,000-tons-a-week goal. Using the same supply route, but sometimes getting into areas that the UN has been unable to reach, convoys run by non-governmental organisations have also been getting through, although the numbers have not yet been big enough to make a dent.

Mattresses, blankets, shoes and plastic sheeting for desperately needed shelter have reached Srebrenica and Gorazde; food and medicine have made it into Mostar, Tuzla and Zenica, but not enough to meet the demand. An agreement between the leaders of warring parties has managed to ease the passage of aid somewhat, but the weather has made road conditions hazardous, and uncooperative local commanders slow down or stop delivery of certain items. If that is not enough, charities are also facing donor fatigue.

In spite of these terrible difficulties, charities are making an invaluable contribution to Bosnia, often in conjunction with the UN. Today the Independent is launching an appeal to support them further. We describe below the work of some of the agencies operating in Bosnia. And to the extent that readers make donations to one or more of them, the Independent will show its commitment to the appeal by adding a 10 per cent donation - up to pounds 30,000 - on top of what is given by our readers.

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