Bonsnia Tragedy Calls for Action

By Nadia Khan
Cold Spring Harbor High School
New York

Hopelessness and starvation are the way of life for the children living in Bosnia. The senseless war in Bosnia has led to the death of so many innocent bystanders, many of whom are small, helpless children.

Bosnia, a multicultural, multi-religious nation, where Catholics, Muslims, Jews and others had once lived in harmony, became the subject of hatred and killing. An "ethnic cleansing" took place that didn't look as though it would stop, despite efforts to sign peace treaties. We may have only heard about the war in Bosnia for sixty seconds in the news each day, but the people of Bosnia lived in a constant nightmare from which they could not escape.

What came to mind when I thought about the war in Bosnia was, "why should the children be made to suffer?" I felt that the children are the future and even though I could not possibly imagine how these children felt, I began to worry about what they were going through, and I wanted to do something to help.

During the Autumn of 1995, I finally got my chance to help in a small way. I called the Bosnian representative at the United Nations office to see if I could do anything to help, and as a result, I started a fundraising campaign. I sent out as many letters as I could to people living in our community. In the end, I sent out about 300 letters. The responses started coming in pretty quickly and by October 4, 1995, I had raised a total of $1,817.

On October 4, I visited Mrs. Dersovic, a representative for Bosnia at the United Nations building in New York and delivered the money to her in person. We talked for awhile about the tragedy that was going on in her country, and she told me that until the war started, she had lived in Bosnia but had finally decided to come to live here, in the U.S.A. She told me how bad the situation was, and that in many hospitals, there were not enough beds to hold the number of victims who need to be helped. Because of the shortage of beds, victims who probably could have been saved, ended up dying because they lacked the proper care. At the end of my meeting with Mrs. Dersovic, she gave me several books about the situation of Bosnia, containing actual testimonies from people who had survived terrible situations.

During the next few weeks following the meeting, I received several more checks, adding up to over $400 which I then sent to the United Nations. The total amount was over $2000, thanks to the kindness of the people living in our community.

The ethnic cleansing which took place in Bosnia is not justifiable and has had a devastating effect upon that country. The children are most affected. The atrocities will remain imprinted in their minds for the rest of their lives. I hope that the money raised will help alleviate the suffering of the children of Bosnia even if it is only in a small way. I hope that soon the people will once again live in peace and harmony. Below is a copy of the last paragraph of my letter:

Please help to resolve this problem by making out a check to "the Permanent Mission of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the UN." Be sure to note on the check "Donation for Bosnia." Then please send the check in the enclosed, stamped envelope, which is addressed to me. I will then personally deliver all of the checks to the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina at the United Nations Building.

Thank you for your generous support and your concern.

Statement by the United States Holocaust Memorial
Council on the Carnage in the Former Yugoslavia

August 3, 1995:

Three years ago this week, the United States Holocaust Memorial Council condemned the brutal campaigns of "ethnic cleansing" being carried out in the former Yugoslavia. Today the Council responds to that region's ongoing carnage with renewed horror and anguish. The terrorizing, brutalizing, and murder of innocents, simply because they are members of a particular ethnic or religious group, and primarily for the purpose of removing that group from a geographic area claimed by another group, are acts that are incompatible with all norms of civilized behavior.

We call upon all governments and international organizations to exercise every possible means to stop the slaughter of innocents in the former Yugoslavia. They must demonstrate forcefully their commitment -- there and everywhere else -- to the sanctity and preciousness of all human life. And they must learn from this tragedy ways of averting future tragedies, both in the Balkans and elsewhere, so that rival political and ethnic striving, so endemic in the world, and in so many places so ripe for explosion and exploitation, are not permitted to disintegrate into murderous campaigns that decimate populations and ravage the very essence of the human spirit.

To Bosnia

Solemn, as the winter devours, yet seen, as
those pale white flowers.
The mouth is open, but no words appear.
The sun has left my space to hollow an enclave
in through which blood runs.
So seldom do I see the moon, for shielded I am.
So empty it is that you cannot feel a thing.
Close your eyes now;
People are leaving,
We cannot show them everything.

Jaye Lifschitz
Carmel/Crawford Schools,
Pretoria, South Africa

[ Back to AETI 1996 Table of Contents ]

Copyright © 1996-2005 by iEARN. All rights reserved.

Access the HGP's An End to Intolerance Web page.

Access the Holocaust/Genocide Project's Home Page.