Bosnia and Herzegovina

Eye-witness accounts of the evacuation from Srebenica and the fate of missing colleagues

Eye-witness accounts of the evacuation from Srebenica and the fate of missing colleagues pdf — 10.62 MB Download

Introduction

MSF surgeons, anaesthetists, medical doctors and nurses had been providing assistance to the patients in the Srebrenica hospital since March 1993 when MSF first entered the enclave of Srebrenica. Despite the difficulties encountered in bringing the necessary materials into the enclave, MSF logisticians succeeded in converting public buildings into accommodation for some 20,000 people who were sheltering in the town. They also managed to rehabilitate the old water purification station on the upper side of the town, thereby ensuring water supplies to a number of neighbourhoods.

The work carried out by our medical and logistical teams would not have been possible without the constant support and solid backing of the staff of the Srebrenica hospital and the local MSF staff.

On 10 July 1995, when the Bosnian Serb forces were on the verge of entering Srebrenica after four days of heavy shelling, somehow the hospital was still functioning. The corridors were crowded with sick and wounded patients and the understaffed surgical team had to operate around the clock. The one available source of help, the medical team with the Dutch UNPROFOR battalion based near the town, refused a request from MSF to provide assistance, so the local and expatriate hospital staff was left to carry on alone, knowing that no outside help would be coming.

On 11 July, the terrorised population fled Srebrenica. ln the face of the Bosnian Serb advance, many tried to reach the UNPROFOR base at Potocari while thousands escaped into the forests in the hope of getting through to safer areas.

This report is based on interviews with the staff of the Srebrenica hospital and the local MSF staff covering the events that occurred in the days following the fall of the enclave. They explain how they escaped to safety and what happened to the colleagues who are still missing today.