SITUATION IN SREBRENICA ON 14 JULY 1995
"Refugees arriving in Tuzla told tales of horror. They claimed Serb soldiers, making cruel jokes, dragged away young women [and brutally raping them]; that civilians in Serb-held villages stonned the packed buses deporting the refugees; that men and boys were torn from their families, civilians were shot, houses were burned. "
TUZLA, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) - Aid officials in Tuzla were overwhelmed today by one of the worst refugee crises of the Bosnian war. Thousands of exhausted, hungry people spent another night in the open. One woman hanged herself in despair.
U.N. officials worked through the night to set up tents, and distributed readt-to-eat meals and 10,000 blankets. Convoys with 50 tons of food and tents were en route from Zagreb, Croatia.
But officials conceded they weren't able to properly care for the thousands of refugees expelled by Bosnian Serbs who overran the U.N. "safe area" of Srebrenica on Tuesday.
"Despite all efforts UNHCR is undertaking, the situation is extremely serious," said Alemka Lisinski, spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.
The fall of Srebrenica, declared a "safe area" by the United Nations in 1993, led to one of the biggest evictions of non-Serbs in Bosnia's 3-year-old war. On Thursday, Bosnian Serb commander Gen. Ratko Mladic announced that the 40,000 people living there - most of them Muslim refugees - had been driven from their homes.
Only about 400 remained at the U.N. camp in Potocari, north of Srebrenica where they had fled the Serb advance, U.N. officials said. About 12,000 refugees were accounted for, but the remainder were on the march and U.N. officials said they did not know where they were.
About 2,000 refugees from Srebrenica took shelter at the U.N.-controlled airbase in Tuzla, a government-held town 50 miles northwest. Eight thousand [8,000] others spent the night along the road outside, huddling together for warmth, many too exhausted to sleep.
An additional 2,000 were expected to head to Tuzla from the town of Kladanj, where they crossed the frontline.
This morning, a little girl pointed to a wood near the airfield and said: "There's a woman hanging there in the tree."
The woman, who looked to be in her early 20s, had hanged herself with a torn blanked, her bare feet dangling about three feet from the ground.
Serbs had put thousands of women and children on more than 100 buses and trucks that set off in baking heat for Tuzla.
Men and boys were separated and were believed to hav ebeen taken to Bratunac, a Serb-held town just north of the Srebrenica enclave.
Refugees arriving in Tuzla told tales of horror. They claimed Serb soldiers, making cruel jokes, dragged away young women; that civilians in Serb-held villages stonned the packed buses deporting the refugees; that men and boys were torn from their families, civilians were shot, houses were burned.