As 150,000 Serbs fled the Croatian offensive in August, they left behind many of their elderly and ill. UNTV filmed them without access to food, firewood, or medical treatment. One died, others are dying, and the Croatian authorities are doing little to assist them.
Shots of deserted homes and rubbish by the side of the road. This area was home to thousands of Serbs but most fled during the Croatian offensive in August. Only those too old or sick to leave have stayed behind. Shot of a old woman dressed in black, carrying a water container, crossing scrub land. An old woman sits on her bed, wrapped in a blanket. A UN car drives down a muddy track. The UN has been keeping these people alive but soon they will leave. Stephanie Bond, a Human Rights Officer, describes the isolated position of these people as she travels with UNTV. She worries that if the UN patrols stop and no other agency takes on their work then people will die. Shots of UNPROFOR soldiers delivering aid to the house of an elderly Serb. In another house, a bed-bound Serb is unable to walk and needs injections. Her only support is her eighty-five year old mother. Shots of the mother making hot drinks for them. Her daughter shows the camera photographs of her family. She says 'I had everything and now I have nothing'. Dressed in a headscarf and thick jumper, she cries as she says 'I'm left alone, ill in bed'. Branko, an old man, was also bed-bound and lived alone. Footage shows his unsanitary living conditions. This film was taken by UN Human Rights Watch to show that he needed to be hospitalised. Stephanie Bond, a Human Rights Officer, says that they found him in an unheated room, unable to leave him bed, lying in his own waste. Footage shows a Human Rights officer lifting the covers off the old man, revealing thin legs, the muscle wasted away. The UN tried eleven times to persuade a local hospital to take him and every time they said that they lacked bed spaces and an ambulance. By the time a place was found, Branko was already dead. A UNPROFOR soldier shows Stephanie where they found his body. When a local doctor was informed of Branko's death, he said 'Thank God, he saved us and he saved himself'. In reaction Stephanie Bond says that she was shocked that the Croatian authorities were unable to organise any assistance for this man. Interview with Peggy Hicks, from UN Human Rights Office, who says that Croatian authorities appeared content to let a man die because they did not want to deal with the problem of Serbs left behind. Interview with Prof. Ivica Kostović, Vice Premier Humanitarian Affairs, who says that if any Croatian citizen is turned away from a hospital the Minister of Health should be informed. He says that he does not know of any such cases. Shots of a ward in one of Croatia's hospitals. Medical authorities say that they are trying to create space for an extra four hundred patients by expanding the number of beds available at the hospitals in Knin and Petrinja. Prof. Ivica Kostović, Vice Premier Humanitarian Affairs, says that the UN can monitor remote villages and inform the Croatian authorities when people need to be hospitalised. The Croatian Red Cross is currently overstretched. There is only one van to cover four hundred square miles around Glina. Shot of a Red Cross worker unloading the van. Shots of an old woman and two young children collecting hay. This woman, Stana, is worried that she will die this winter leaving no one to look after her grandchildren, aged four and six. She stands at the gatepost with the children in front of her. She says that she is frightened at night because they are so alone. She begins to cry. Prof. Ivica Kostović, Vice Premier Humanitarian Affairs, says that 'the fact that people have chosen to stay in those remote villages means that they are putting themselves at risk...and if I made them leave they would say we are ethnic cleansing'. He calls for compromise. Serbs still do not feel safe as looting continues to happen nearby. Peggy Hicks, from UN Human Rights Office, says that Croatia has a duty to protect all of its citizens. Shot of Elizabeth Bond comforting a Serb and UNPROFOR soldiers unloading aid. With UNPROFOR's mandate about to expire, concern for these Croatian citizens' welfare continues. For UN personnel, leaving these people behind, with no guarantee that they will be looked after, is very difficult.
- Related period
- 1990 to the present day (production), 1990 to the present day (content)
- Butler, Kate (Production individual)
Rossig, Ruediger (Production individual)
- Production date
- 1995-11, 1995-12-01
- Place made
whole: Number Of Items/reels/tapes 1
- Catalogue number
- UNT 815