Villagers face starvation

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The Independent Online
SARAJEVO (Reuter) - United Nations officials said yesterday that many villagers in Muslim and Croatian areas of central Bosnia are close to starvation because the republic's warring groups are either blocking the delivery of humanitarian aid or giving it to their own soldiers. 'In the area of Kakanj, many villages have been found where people are starving,' said Major Idesbald van Biesebroeck, a UN military spokesman.

He said the Muslim mayor of Kakanj, north-west of Sarajevo, was denying food to many local civilians in favour of soldiers, government officials and the families of dead soldiers. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says that 1.2 million people in central Bosnia, or 80 per cent of the region's population, need relief aid to survive the winter. However, the UNHCR managed to deliver only 10 per cent of central Bosnia's needs in November and 18 per cent last month. In Sarajevo yesterday, Serbian and Muslim forces fought in the worst clashes of the new year.