The Bosnia Crisis: A 'second Sarajevo' threatened in Bihac

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The Independent Online
GENEVA (Reuter) - The United Nations said yesterday it feared another Sarajevo might be developing in a corner of Bosnia- Herzegovina, isolated from medical care and food and apparently threatened with attack from Serbs. The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said there was a severe lack of food and medical care in the town of Bihac and its surroundings.

More the 250,000 people, mainly Muslims, live in the finger of land in north-west Bosnia jutting into Croatia. Ron Redmond, a UNHCR spokesman said: 'The situation there is in some respects shaping up to look like another Sarajevo. We understand the mayor of Bihac said on radio yesterday that an attack on the city is imminent. We hope that's not true. If it is, it could mean tens of thousands of people may be on the move.'

Mr Redmond said a convoy of fewer than five trucks - from the UNHCR, the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Children's Fund - would try to reach Bihac today, though success was not certain.

The Sarajevo airport has been closed by shelling, but UN troops there say the runway is operable if there is calm. 'We're ready to start tomorrow morning. The crews are on standby,' Mr Redmond said, adding that the chances of reopening the airport today were slim.

A repeat of Sarajevo's experience in Bihac could add to the disastrously high caseload of 2.3 million people the UNHCR estimates have been uprooted by the Yugoslav conflict.

The latest UNHCR figures show 1.89 million people from the former Yugoslavia have fled their homes to other parts of the old federation and an additional 445,000 have gone to other countries in Europe.

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