Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Bosnians Fleeing New Serb Attacks Flood a Small Town in Montenegro

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Bosnians Fleeing New Serb Attacks Flood a Small Town in Montenegro

Article excerpt

A NEW wave of Serb ethnic cleansing is sweeping southern Bosnia-Herzegovina, forcing thousands of distraught Muslim refugees to flee southeast into the republic of Montenegro.

Many of them head toward Rozaj, a small town most of the way across Montenegro. Because of the influx of refugees, Mayor Nusert Kalac warned earlier this month of starvation and death by freezing if more aid does not arrive soon.

"One woman has already died of cold. We do not have enough beds. There isn't enough food," Mr. Kalac says.

The town normally has 12,000 inhabitants; it is struggling to cope with 5,000 refugees.

The refugees have chosen Rozaj because it is one of the few Muslim-dominated towns in the republic. But even here they feel threatened because Montenegro is a Serb-dominated republic, which together with Serbia makes up the new Yugoslavia. "We are afraid to talk, afraid to complain," says one young man.

Hundreds of refugees tried boarding buses headed for Hungary but were turned back at the border. "What are we going to do, where are we going to go?" asks a young Muslim mother.

The refugees are from the small town of Trebinje and its surroundings just north of the coastal city of Dubrovnik. They blame Trebinje authorities for helping in a campaign of terror that started last month when Serb militias from outside the area arrived and began harassing and intimidating Muslims.

"The mayor and the police and the others - they did not lift a finger," says an embittered octogenarian woman whose son had fought with the Serbs on the front.

Trebinje's mayor issued a statement saying the Muslims had chosen to go of their own free will.

The campaign of harassment reached its peak Jan. 27, a Serb holiday, revering Serbia's founder, St. Sava. Drunken Serb militiamen set fire to the 500-year-old mosque, according to several refugees.

"At that moment everything I had was burned down," says Kemel Bubic, adding, "My foundation burned. I was destroyed." He was particularly shocked because he and others had worked hard during Bosnia's 10 months of civil war to escape the nationalist fervor.

Mr. Bubic also had even fought with Serbs on the front against Croat forces. …

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