CNN Balkan Conflict News

refugee Will ethnic cleansing be the end result in Bosnia?

September 22, 1995
Web posted at: 11:55 p.m. EDT

From Correspondent Eileen O'Connor

BANJA LUKA, Bosnia-Herzegovina (CNN) -- For the people of Bosnia, peace may finish the ethnic cleansing that war merely began. Refugees are again on the move, but this time it's mainly Serbs, as well as some Muslims and Croats. They are moving from village to village, ensuring a defacto partitioning of Bosnia.

Two weeks ago, the map looked different, with Bosnian government control ending at Glamoc. Since then, their advance has pushed some 100,000 Serbs from their homes into predominantly Serb areas in the northwest. That gives control and an ethnic majority to Muslims and Croats in the southwest.

before map before map

Two weeks ago


For men like Reiko Ulzeretz, a refugee at a camp near Banja Luka, it all looks too easy. Perhaps a deal has been struck. "Why could we Serbs hold that front for three years until suddenly now? I feel betrayed," he said.

refugees moving All sides deny that they allowed the massive movement of Serb refugees to Serb regions. But when Muslim refugees fled from Srebrenica, the same question was asked. Was the international community allowing Muslims to be moved into Muslim-controlled areas to pave the way for ethnically cleansed regions?

Only the refugees know the reality. Ilionka, like many refugees, wears black, mourning the death of her husband and the father of her three children. That is why she and the others say they can never go back or live again with Muslims or Croats. "I'd rather see my home destroyed than a Muslim to move in," she says.

Both sides are now preparing to resettle refugees into houses, many of them emptied and burned during the first waves of ethnic cleansing. That time it was called an atrocity. This time it is called reciprocity under the peace plan.

And while there may be talk of a multi-ethnic culture, especially from the side of the Bosnian government, neither Muslims, Croats nor Serbs are creating the conditions for brotherly love. If Balkan history proves anything, it is that peace does not come at the point of a gun.


Copyright © 1995 Cable News Network, Inc.