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Bosnia-Herzegovina: ICRC action in enclaves crisis

26-07-1995 News Release 30

More than 1,000 civilians - most of them women and children - have fled the fighting that is now raging in the north of the Bihac enclave to seek refuge with relatives in the town of Cazin. Since 21 July ICRC delegates, working with local Red Cross volunteers, have been handing out food parcels, blankets, and jerricans to enable the people to store water. In anticipation of a possible increase in the number of war wounded, the ICRC also stands ready to provide emergency surgical supplies to medical facilities in Cazin, Kladusa, Glina and Vojnic.

At the start of the crisis affecting the enclaves, the ICRC set up a special tracing service in Kladanj, on the Tuzla air base and in the various places where displaced persons have gathered, to try and locate people separated from their families or reported missing. Hundreds of such cases have been reported to the six ICRC delegates working on the spot with the help of 28 interpreters. These reports will provide a sound basis for the ICRC's efforts to trace missing persons and restore family ties, and for its visits to detainees. All the information collected is handled confidentially so as to ensure the safety of those seeking family members and of the relatives with whom they have lost contact.

Emergency teams of medical personnel and water supply experts, stationed by the ICRC at the Kladanj checkpoint and in the Tuzla area, stand ready to take action in the event of a fresh influx of displaced people from Zepa and its surroundings.

Since the fall of the Srebrenica enclave, the ICRC has not succeeded in gaining access to individuals detained by the Bosnian Serb forces. It is relentlessly pursuing its approaches to the authorities in charge, which have publicly pledged, on several occasions, to respect the Geneva Conventions. So far they have not honoured their commitments, and the ICRC is deeply concerned about the plight of all those whom it is unable to protect.