Muslims return to Sarajevo suburbs

EMMA DALY

Ilijas

Bosnian Muslims and Croats who were expelled from the suburbs of Sarajevo in 1992 ventured in to see what remained of their houses yesterday while the exodus of Serbs continued with the help of Serbian military vehicles.

The United Nations estimates that about half the Serb population has left, but the streets of Vogosca, more or less deserted in the last few days, have slowly returned to life since the arrival on Friday of Bosnian federal police, who are taking control of five suburbs in a phased hand- over.

The only pedestrians visible last week were older men and women, some unsure whether to stay under government rule, others too poor to leave without the help promised by the Serb leadership, which never materialised.

But yesterday a few young men played football, others fetched water or stopped to chat to policemen.

It was one of the rare occasions on which Muslims were easily distinguishable from Serbs, as the Muslims were smiling. "It's super, we've come back to visit relatives who stayed here throughout the war," said one young man in Vogosca, north of Sarajevo. "They're OK, everything's great."

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) believes about 30,000 Serbs have now left greater Sarajevo, just under half the estimated war-time population of 70,000. The Bosnian Serb leadership claims that 80 to 90 per cent have departed.

One Bosnian policeman said Serbs staying in Vogosca were frightened at first: "But then I said 'Hello', and suddenly they were asking if I could help them and bring them things.

"What struck me was how poor these people are. This is a place from the 19th century which, instead of moving forward to the 21st, has returned to the Middle Ages."

Muhamed Kozadra, the new Muslim mayor of Vogosca, who assumed office sooner than was planned - the civilian authorities were not due to move in until 19 March - has sought to stem the outward flow of material goods, if not of people. He said yesterday no vehicles would be allowed to remove possessions from Vogosca unless the family had registered. "Whatever is theirs they can take away, but whatever belongs to others must stay," he said.

The new regulations will increase concern among Serbs, many of whom have heard a rumour that they will not be allowed to leave the area after 19 March.

However, the mayor has a point. Many Serbs leaving the suburbs have removed everything from their homes, including kitchen sinks.

"Even the windows are gone," Bensad Heric said, looking at the home he was forced to leave in 1992. "But we'll put it back into shape."

In Ilijas, UNHCR officials saw some of those in the 20 Serb army trucks, which were sent in to the demilitarised suburbs with the approval of the Nato commander, Admiral Leighton Smith, looting official buildings.

"There were some military trucks loading up public property, such as furniture from the municipality building and chairs from the cinema," said Kris Janowski, a UNHCR spokesman.

He criticised Admiral Smith's decision to allow the Serb army to re-enter the area.

"There are some reasonable people there who want to stay. What makes us nervous about the trucking operation is that some people who are inclined to stay may see a truck pulling up in front of their house, and find it an offer they cannot refuse."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas