Letter: Agony beyond the West's Bosnian 'triumphs'

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The Independent Online
Sir: The Western world is in something of a self-congratulatory mood after having achieved a withdrawal of Serb heavy armaments around Sarajevo and downed four of their aircraft. We should not forget, however, that the situation in much of Bosnia- Herzegovina remains appalling.

A UNHCR report dated 4 February reports 'Indiscriminate shelling of heavily populated parts of Tuzla town continues daily, with disastrous results'. On 1 February, Unicef released the results of a survey which identified children at risk of war trauma. It denoted areas where 23 per cent of the children were forced to leave their towns or villages, where 17 per cent thought they would die from the cold, where 65 per cent expressed fear of being killed. UNHCR states that there are now 3,792,000 beneficiaries of aid including refugees, displaced and other vulnerable groups within the former Yugoslavia. On top of this there are already 200,000 who have been killed in the conflict.

This is not the end of it. The Serbs are still intent on carving out for themselves a greater Serbia at whatever the cost in human misery and toll of lives. We, therefore, cannot allow ourselves any complacency. Fortunately we have in General Rose and General Cot two excellent military commanders. It is up to our governments, and with them the negotiators, to agree a new strategy that will solve and not prolong the agony.

In the first place, this needs to recognise that partition rewards aggression and helps to make ethnic cleansing tolerated. In the second place, the sieges of Sarajevo and the bombing and siege of Tuzla, Mostar, Bihac and other towns have to be lifted. This may need the use of increased troops and a degree of peacemaking to obtain our objectives.

To continue as before, however, will only prolong the agony and eventually lead to conquest by the strongest party. In the final analysis, if the West is not prepared to act in this way, there will need to be a lifting of the arms embargo and the local forces will have to fight it out for themselves.

Yours faithfully,


MEP for East Sussex (Con)

Cowden, Kent