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Source: Oneworld Online

OneWorld Online speaks to Oxfam at the refugee camps in Bosnia

(John Palmer, Oxfam Communications Manager in Tuzla, speaking to OneWorld Online from the refugee camps)

OneWorld Online: What is the scene on the ground in Tuzla at the moment?

John Palmer: The situation is that the camp at Tuzla is now settling down to a kind of routine. Oxfam is co-ordinating with other agencies to supply people's basic needs there. We're directly supplying things like nappies, items of clothing, children's food and hygienic items.

We're doing a lot of work with mothers and babies - we've set up a number of baby clinics where mothers can take their babies to wash them and to change their nappies.

Over the last 3 years 20,000 refugees have come into Tuzla from surrounding areas. Over the last 2 weeks alone there've been 30,000. Ten thousand are at the camp. The rest of them are spread around Tuzla with their families, relations and friends, or in school buildings and community centres around town - so we're supplying those places with basic needs as well.

OneWorld Online: What is the state of the refugees?

John Palmer: The people are not in a very good state of health at the moment. They've trekked - or been trucked - hundreds of kilometres from their home areas in Tuzla, they haven't really had a hot meal for a number of weeks now. They've been split up from their families, they're not sure where their fathers, mothers and sons are...

OneWorld Online: Do you know what the latest situation in Zepa is?

John Palmer: Well, we're hearing lots of rumours, but you probably know as much as we do actually. We've been hearing... [gunshot sound] We've been hearing reports of refugees leaving but we're not quite sure where they're going - they're not in the Tuzla area.

OneWorld Online: Have there been any attacks on Tuzla itself?

John Palmer: Only the night before last, when there was one shell.

OneWorld Online: Is there any news from Gorazde?

John Palmer: No idea. We're cut of from the news here ourselves, there's just lots of rumours circulating around.

OneWorld Online: How long can Oxfam stay in Tuzla?

John Palmer: That depends on the UN staying here - it really does. We can't continue if they're not here - they're keeping the supply routes open and helping distribution around the camp. If they're not here, we're not here.

OneWorld Online: Is there any message you want to pass to our viewers?

John Palmer: We're quite lucky in that most of the things we require at the camp we're actually able to buy in Tuzla, basically what we need most is money. Really we can just appeal to the public for the funds to help.

OneWorld Online: How are you coping personally?

John Palmer: I'm fine! The situation here is difficult for everybody - but of course it's far worse for the refugees in the camp than for us.