Food aid arrives in Sarajevo

Click to follow
The Bosnian Serbs yesterday allowed the first food convoy to enter Sarajevo in a month, shortly after the UN command in Zagreb vetoed Nato's request for an air strike against a Serb airfield used to violate the "no-fly zone", UN and Nato sources said.

Lorries carrying 165 tons of wheat flour entered the city at lunch-time after a relatively smooth journey from Zenica in central Bosnia through Serb-held territory. Two-thirds of the aid was delivered to the city's main bakery, with the remainder to the Serb-held warehouse at Rajlovac.

However, six people were killed and 15 wounded when a shell fired by Serb forces smashed into the Sarajevo suburb of Dobrinja last night, the Bosnian health ministry said. Earlier in the day, a mortar blast injured five people at a marketplace in the city centre.

Three other convoys destined for Sarajevo were held up for several hours at a Bosnian Croat checkpoint near Kiseljak, but Karen Abu Zayd, chief official in Bosnia of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), was hopeful at least two more convoys would reach the city yesterday.

The first convoy was accompanied by a Serb police escort rather than troops of the UN Protection Force (Unprofor).

"I'm thrilled [by the convoy's arrival]," said one UN official sardonically. "But I think it only prolongs the agony of the situation - it will just put off until later any drastic decision on how to deal with the humanitarian situation." The UNHCR needs 6,000 tons of aid a month to feed the city. Yesterday's flour delivery should keep the bakery going for another three days.

Admiral Leighton Smith's request for an air strike against the Bosnian Serb-held airport at Banja Luka was clearly destined for refusal, despite the violation by two Serb planes of the no-fly zone. The UN denied reports that the Bosnian Serbs won a guarantee for the suspension of Nato air strikes, but it is clear the international community is extremely reluctant to use force against them.