Boutros-Ghali says Bosnia aid must resume

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The Independent Online
BELGRADE - United Nations aid officials in Sarajevo have reversed their decision to pull out by the weekend and will stay in the city, a UN official said in Sarajevo yesterday. 'Everybody is staying,' said the official, who declined to be named.

On Thursday, the Sarajevo office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR), which is in charge of aid to Bosnia, said it planned to pull most of its staff out by the weekend. In New York, the UN Secretary-General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali said that he had ordered the resumption of the Bosnia relief operation.

Sadako Ogata, the UN refugee chief, suspended aid on Wednesday, frustrated that Serbs were blocking convoys to eastern Bosnia, and that Muslims were boycotting aid in Sarajevo to pressurise the UN into helping towns in the east. 'I sent a message to Mrs Ogata asking her to resume it,' Mr Boutros-Ghali said. 'I am supposed to direct this operation.' President Alija Izetbegovic of Bosnia welcomed the decision and hinted that the Muslim boycott might be called off.

In spite of the announced shutdown of UN humanitarian aid operations in most of Bosnia, UN officials were hopeful yesterday that an aid convoy destined for the hungry Muslims of Gorazde and Zepa, in eastern Bosnia, would reach the besieged towns today, after being held up for several days in Serb-held Rogatica. The 10-truck convoy, due to split into two parts, received the go-ahead from Serbian commanders to carry on to Zepa and Gorazde, after the commander of UN peace- keepers in Bosnia, General Philippe Morillon of France, showed up in Rogatica to supervise the convoy's passage personally .

UN aid officials say that up to 80,000 Muslims live in Gorazde, but lack information about Zepa, which has received only one aid convoy during 10 months of fighting. Ham radio reports from Zepa's Muslim defenders said dozens of people in the town, including some children, had frozen and starved to death.