Exit From Sarajevo, 1994


Olja H.

In June 1994, Sarajevo was still under the siege. However, for 14 days, there were Blue Roads open that were allowing people to leave Sarajevo, but just those ones who had papers, and it was supposed to be a trip through the aggressor's territory. I had my papers to leave gathered (after a one year of getting them together, and getting authorities to let me go.)

The day before, it was my father's anniversary (he died on June 13, 1992.) On 14th, me and my cousin were on a bus to Zagreb, Croatia. That was the first time that regular people were leaving Sarajevo like this, driving over aggressor's territory, and that also some men were on the bus too. I think that there were two buses, and we were stopped by our Army, they checked our documents, then by Bosnian Serbs Army. They were very polite at the first checkpoint and asked if someone would like to join them. Well, this time everybody was still. Next time when Serbs Army stopped us I saw field around us and some passage through sacks full of sand or something else, which were forming tunnel on the road. We were stuck there and Serbs Officers came in asking for documents and if someone would like to join them. Who would do that in the middle of nowhere? Well, some people did. That was the moment where I started to be scared so much, for the first time in my life during the war. Since we were followed, and in front of us was one tank of UN soldiers (Canada), nothing happened.

We came safely to Visoko, and tomorrow morning continued our trip to Zagreb without UN protection. We came to the border with Croatia and that lasted for ever because one person did not have all papers, and they wanted to return two full buses back to Visoko. After hours of discussion and not being able to leave bus for the use of toilets, we continued trip and were forbidden to stop for next 5 hours of driving. Anyway, tomorrow morning we found ourselves in Zagreb. Five days after I left Sarajevo, next convoy was organized and aggressor started to shoot at them and Blue Roads to "heaven" were closed. I was lucky.

About tunnel: It was built by Bosnian Army, not by Muslims. I hope that you know how to distinguish between Bosnian Muslims, Bosnian Serbs, Bosnian Croats, and extremists. Tunnel was necessity because many people were crossing over the airport and they were getting killed. So, Army dug out the tunnel which saved many lives but still it is not normal tunnel. I am surprised that your Muslim commander did not take you there. A friend of mine left Sarajevo through the tunnel because many men who were eligible to leave, did not want to risk to take a bus, later on, and be pulled over by Serbian police. Tunnel also helped our Army to get to some points and defend some parts of the country. People who were trying to escape through the airport had a great chance to get killed like many of them did.

I hope you remember how our Minister for Commerce or something was killed while under the protection of UN soldiers inside of the UN tank. He was father of a very good friend of mine. That was the example of the UN force's power. Aggressor said open the tank, they opened it and a man was killed. Easy, and very scary, isn't it?

UNPROFOR was mixture of Ukrainian (who were for Serbs all the time), British, French, Egyptian, Canadian forces. Maybe that some others were there but these were in majority. Only good thing they did was that they escorted bringing of humanitarian aid into the city, and still they had to give 30% of it to the aggressor at the entrance to the city. They also counted how many people got killed on each day, and somehow they never had a correct figure. Wonder why?

Do not mind me, I have a bitter feeling about UN, but still I would like to get an internship with them, or work for them later. I think some changes could be done if my dream of getting there come to true.