Carving up Bosnia could force 2 million to move State Department makes estimate

July 13, 1993|By New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON -- The partition of Bosnia into three ethnic areas could require the resettlement of 1.5 million to 2 million people, a classified State Department report says.

The brief report, prepared early this month by the intelligence bureau of the State Department and based on a map drawn by President Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia, draws no conclusions about the desirability of carving up the country but assumes that masses of Serbs, Croats, and Muslims will move, either through coercion or by choice, State Department officials said.

This would require an extraordinary new commitment of outside assistance, senior State Department officials and officials from international relief agencies said.

"Partition is not going to solve the humanitarian problems of Bosnia," a senior State Department official said. "We're talking about enormous waves of people. Things could get much worse than they are now if you don't have access to people and enough resources to provide food and shelter."

Another problem, one senior State Department official said, is that partition could disrupt most of the Bosnian families with mixed ethnic backgrounds.

Senior State Department officials and relief agency officials stressed that the Milosevic map, which international mediators are using as a basis for negotiation, is by no means inevitable. On Sunday, the Muslim-led Bosnian government rejected the partition proposal, which was advanced last month by Mr. Milosevic and President Franjo Tudjman of Croatia.

The report coincides with a worsening of the humanitarian crisis HTC in Sarajevo and the five other regions in Bosnia that the United Nations has designated "safe areas." The capital now lacks fresh water and is low on food and fuel, and U.N. relief convoys are stalled at Serbian roadblocks.

Warren Zimmerman, director of the Bureau for Refugee Programs and the last U.S. ambassador to Yugoslavia, told a subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee that Bosnia has "a humanitarian crisis of a scale we have not seen in Europe" since World War II.

The State Department report estimates that with partition, 600,000 Muslims would have to move, half of them from areas of Bosnia that would no longer be controlled by the government, the other half expelled from Croatia.

Between 275,000 and 300,000 Croats would have to move, most displaced from such towns as Vitez and Travnik that would become Muslim controlled areas, the report estimates. Half a million Serbs would be expected to move, about 350,000 from Serbia back home to newly Serb-controlled territory, the rest from places that would come under Muslim or Croatian control.

There are currently 3.8 million people displaced by the war, compared with 2.4 million last December. As partition becomes more likely, European countries are making it more difficult for people from the remnants of Yugoslavia to settle in their countries.

Bill Frelick, a senior analyst for the U.S. Committee for Refugees, said there would be three consequences of partition: "genocidal-type killing," whose scale would depend on the response of the outside world; a mass exodus, which would depend on the willingness of the West to accept refugees, and the creation of a combination "Indian reservation/Palestinian refugee camp in which people with no political power, held in closed areas, become an international welfare case."

Sadako Ogata, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, has become increasingly frustrated by the commission's inability to deliver aid to Bosnia and is threatening to pull out.

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