May 22, 1995 Vreme News Digest Agency No 190

Western Slavonia

Refugees Non Grata

by Aleksandar Vasovic, radio B-92 journalist

After two days spent waiting at the border, Western Slavonia refugees got a police escort through Yugoslavia to Eastern Slavonia

The convoy of about 100 refugees, mainly women, children and the old, from Western Slavonia went through Kuzmin slowly, headed by a Serbian police car. There were no Yugoslav representatives to accompany it nor representatives of international humanitarian organizations.

Kuzmin residents showed almost no interest, the only comment was from two old women who cursed Slobodan Milosevic.

Refugees from Pakrac, Okucani and Jasenovac spent 20 hours bargaining, negotiating and arguing with Yugoslav border authorities at the Sremska Raca crossing and finally, on Wednesday, they crossed into the FRY.

The ones who tried to cross the border at night were not allowed across the bridge. A medical team from Sremska Mitrovica had to cross into the Bosnian Serb Republic to examine them.

Nurse Vlada Radovanovic said he examined some 300 people that night and added that six of them were admitted to hospital in Sremska Mitrovica (several children, wounded and a woman who suffered a stroke on the way). The column of 10 tractors, cars and one bus went along well policed roads from Kuzmin to Krajina territory.

The refugees said some had spent two days waiting to cross and one woman even claimed Yugoslav border guards took her off a bus that had cost her last money.

The road took them to the border crossing into the Republic of Serb Krajina (RSK) at Ilok.

At the crossing, there were several Russian soldiers besides the RSK and FRY police; the Russians looked on in sadness and disgust. The handover was quick.

In the village of Bapska a few kilometers from Ilok, a policeman cursed journalists and Karadzic and the Serbs while locals just shrugged and said this was just the start.

Civil defence personnel in Bapska said the refugees would first be housed in the local school and later in empty houses in Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Srem.

The Red Cross center chief in Sremska Mitrovica, Stevan Rosic, told B-92 Radio on Wednesday that there were three factory halls in his town prepared to house anyone who does not want to go Eastern Slavonia.

"The FRY and RSK have reached an agreement on sending the refugees under police escort to Bapska and Sarengrad," Rosic said and added "the land there is similar to Western Slavonia and they'll be able to farm it.'