Red Cross Says 8,000 People from Fallen Safe Area Are Missing
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) _ About 8,000 Muslims are missing from Srebrenica, the first of two U.N. ``safe areas″ overrun by Bosnian Serb troops in July, the Red Cross said Thursday.
Srebrenica survivors have accused the Serbs of war crimes, including mass killings of civilians and rapes.
Madeline Albright, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, last month showed spy photographs to the Security Council of what appeared to be mass graves in the Srebrenica area. She said they were strong evidence that Serbs executed as many as 2,700 people from the Muslim enclave.
Among the missing were 3,000 people, mostly men, who were seen being arrested by Bosnian Serb troops.
``For those 3,000 we have eyewitnesses that they were separated from their families and abducted by military belonging to the Bosnian Serb army,″ said Beatrice Megevand, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross for central Bosnia.
Following the July 11 collapse of Srebrenica, the Red Cross collected more than 10,000 names of missing people, said Jessica Barry, a spokeswoman in Sarajevo.
Most names were given by family members who fled to Tuzla in northeastern Bosnia after Srebrenica fell. The names were then double-checked against the Red Cross’s database in Zagreb, Croatia.
The result: About 3,000 missing people were seen being taken away by Bosnian Serb forces while 5,000 other people ``have simply disappeared,″ Barry said.
The list of 5,000 names, also mostly men, were those believed to have fled the enclave in the chaos of the Serb onslaught. It is now being cross-checked by the Bosnian government to see if any men showed up in other government-held areas.
``We know that there have been a lot of men that have come back,″ said Megevand, though she had no numbers.
An estimated 15,000 Muslim men and boys set out from Srebrenica toward government territory as the city fell, but they had to cross at least 70 miles of Serb-held land. Fewer than 5,000 of them reached safety.
Officials last month said another 2,000 people were missing from Zepa, which fell in late July, although some may have escaped safely without U.N. or Red Cross knowledge.
The Red Cross chief of operations for western Europe, Angelo Gnaedinger, met with senior Bosnian Serb officials in early September to discuss the missing, but no details of the talks have been made available.
So far, the Red Cross has been allowed to visit only 200 people from Srebrenica, most of them in Bosnian Serb-held territory.
``We will not let things fall into oblivion as long as we don’t have an answer,″ Megevand insisted.