Eurofax No 35 (August 1995)
Ray Saunders (rsaunders@EUROSCOUT.KNOOPPUNT.BE)
Sat, 5 Aug 1995 15:23:23 BST
Eurofax is the monthly newsletter of the European Region. It is produced by
the European Scout Office and is distributed by fax to all member
associations in the European Scout Region and the Europe Region WAGGGS, and
others. This text-only version is distributed as an additional service to
members. Reproduction of articles without alteration is encouraged but
Eurofax should be acknowledged as the source of the information.
Young lives torn apart by war
15,000 child victims have lost limbs
International aid agencies say that more than 15,000 children across the
war-torn country have been so heavily injured that they have had limbs
amputated. More than 20,000 children have been killed and many more
thousands seriously hurt. Bosnian government estimates are higher. (writes
Askold Krushelnycky, Chief Correspondent, The European)
Many have been injured when mortars, artillery or tank shells have slammed
into their homes, schools or bomb shelters. Even in war kids will be kids,
and many have been torn apart by vicious shrapnel blasts as they played
outside - not because of their parents' neglect but because months of
enforced safety indoors begins to seem crueller than the dangers outside.
Three-year-old Aladin Hoeic, a Muslim child, was wounded by a shell that
fell in the garden of his home near Bihac in July 1994. Surgeons had to
take off what remained of his mangled leg. Little Sania, just six, with a
Croat father and Serb mother, was hit by shrapnel from a shell that blasted
her house at Christmas 1994. She also lost a leg.
The child casualties, as with the adults, have predominantly occurred when
civilians have come under attack by Serb rebels fighting the Bosnian
government. The innocent children of Croats and of Serbs, either fighting
for or against the rebels, have suffered.
The better-armed Bosnian Serbs, equipped with vastly more heavy weapons
than are the government forces, have waged a cowardly war by raining down
shells on civilian populations in towns and villages loyal to the
government. All six United Nations designated "safe areas", of which Bihac
is one, were supposed to be defended by UN peacekeepers. But two have
already fallen to Serb attacks in the past weeks.
Each of the enclaves has its share of pitiful and nightmarish tales:
children have been orphaned or separated from their parents; they have
suffered injuries resulting in blindness and paralysis as well as loss of
limbs; many are suffering from vitamin deficiency because of poor diets.
Snipers in the hills around Sarajevo and surrounding other safe areas have
shot at children.
But the accounts of suffering in Bihac become grislier with every day that
the fighting steps up. Hundreds of children have died or been injured. More
than 100 children aged ten or under have lost limbs.
Just five UN food convoys have been able to enter the Bihac enclave of
200,000 people in the past three months, and many of its people suffer from
malnutrition. Many, young and old, are at the point of starvation, and the
UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has said that 15 have already
died of hunger. One UNHCR official found a three-year-old boy who starved
to death. His tiny corpse weighed just six kilos. An old man who died of
hunger left a note saying he was too proud to beg.
Some child victims, from areas where it was possible to leave, have been
taken to neighbouring Croatia, where good medical facilities exist, manned
by international aid agencies. Not so in Bihac, where the noose around the
city has always been tight and is becoming tighter. Now medical supplies
for the hospital, itself at the front line of the city's defences and often
hit by Serb shells, are dwindling. Doctors have had to operate with little
or no anaesthetic. If things get worse, children like Aladin may have to
undergo operations while conscious.
Both Aladin and Sania have had to make do with crutches, because even
makeshift wooden legs that are painful and restrict movements far more than
modern prosthetic limbs are not available to them.
Bernardine Bouchier, a prosthetist at Queen Mary's Hospital in Roehampton,
England, who has treated patients from Bosnia, said that because of the
meagre resources in places like Bihac there is little help for patients to
come to terms with the horror that has befallen them. In western countries,
amputees receive counselling, and experts take a cast of the stump of their
limbs and careful measurements before fitting an artificial limb. Bouchier
said: "There are simply not the services available to help deal with the
severe trauma of losing a limb, let alone the physical problems. Most
children in Bihac are lucky to get an artificial limb of any kind."
She said that aftercare, partly psychological and partly physical, to
explain phenomena such as "phantom limb", in which patients feel itchiness,
pain, heat and cold in hands or feet they no longer have, is important to
allow children to learn to overcome their disabilities. Proper artificial
limbs and expert psychological help, according to Bouchier, can make the
difference between children feeling helpless for the rest of their lives or
overcoming their difficulties to the extent that they can, say, run a race.
=46or the moment, Aladin and Sania will have to stumble around painfully on
crutches, wondering which of their playmates will be the next to have his
or her childhood ripped apart by an exploding shell.
Re-build The Wall of Silence
The Wall of Silence Project was launched by the European Region, in March
1993, in response to approaches from many Guide and Scout leaders wishing a
tool which could be used to "create the possibilities for supportive action
in the face of the refugee crisis in our midst." The crisis today is worse
and the need for education and acts of solidarity greater. The European
newspaper has launched its Aladin's Wish Appeal. We are relaunching The
Wall of Silence Project. We ask you for your active support and
participation in this combined effort. We must make more people aware of
the terrible suffering of the young victims of this war in Europe. We must
find the means to support them.
How you can help
A revised version of The Wall of Silence Project will be published in The
European, beginning with the 11-17 August edition. The material will be
suitable for use in a wide variety of situations: school classrooms, Sunday
schools, youth groups, church and community groups of all kinds and for all
ages. We want as many people as possible to join in building new Walls of
Silence. Tell your friends about it.
Children are the real innocents of the bloody Bosnia conflict. They have no
vote with which to change their political leaders or their fate. They are
too young to carry guns or understand the purpose of this war. They are
too young to take orders or even take sides. But not too young to die or be
maimed for life.
No one can now help the estimated 20,000 children who have been killed in
Bosnia in the past three years. But there is something we can do for the
15,000 children like Aladin who have lost their young limbs in agony in
homes less than three hours' flying time from every major European capital.
The European, in conjunction with the national societies of the Red Cross
and Red Crescent, has launched an appeal to help those suffering most in
former Yugoslavia. Among them, children will be a high priority. In Zagreb,
John Geoghegan of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red
Crescent Societies commented: "Many of the most vulnerable people slip
through the net of aid programmes. Obviously, children are one of those
groups, and we will try to bring them relief directly. We are working with
local Red Cross branches, helping them help their own people. Your readers
have a chance to bring real comfort to real people."
Donations to the Aladin's Wish Appeal should be sent direct to your
national Red Cross Society. Money can be pledged either by telephone or, in
some countries, at banks. It will then be forwarded for use in humanitarian
relief work, especially for children, in former Yugoslavia. Under no
circumstances should any money or donation be sent to the European Guide
and Scout Office or The European.
The European will be reporting on the progress of children such as Aladin,
and activities related to using The Wall of Silence Project material. A
Wall of Silence will be built at the World Jamboree. If your group has
already built a Wall of Silence, please tell your story to The European.
=46ax: (+44.171) 418 1840.
To obtain a version of The Wall of Silence Project in your own language,
please contact your national Guide or Scout association. The European Guide
and Scout Office can also make available original French, German, Italian,
Spanish, Swedish and Danish versions to members of the public who write in,
or fax their names and addresses to us.
Bosnia's Scouts send message to World Jamboree
Renewed fighting in Bosnia & Herzegovina led to the decision that it was
too dangerous for a contingent from Bosnia & Herzegovina to travel to the
World Jamboree, held in the Netherlands, 2-12 August. The Scouts of Bosnia
sent the following message to the 25,000 participants:
Cruel realities of war have prevented us from being together today and in
the next days. For 40 months the war has been ravaging our homeland. Both
adults and children have been killed every day. 16,814 children have been
killed and 34,555 wounded in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and many of them
remain maimed for life. The number of orphaned children has also grown
enormously. Among them are many of our members.
Schools and libraries in Bosnia and Herzegovina were burnt; there are no
more parks for children to play in; our favourite excursion sites are now
strewn with mines and unexploded shells. Many have not even their homes,
which were burnt together with their toys and their memories.
In the aggression against Bosnia and Herzegovina many Scout centres were
devastated, equipment destroyed, Scouting symbols going back for more than
half a century demolished. But we did not lose heart. Wherever we could, we
helped our peers, but also our elders. In the gloom of cold shelters we are
still playing Scout games and learning Scout skills. We had an earnest
desire to show these skills at the Jamboree, to play and make friends.
Scout ranks in Bosnia and Herzegovina include the young people of all
nations; Croats, Muslims and Serbs. We hate no-one on account of his or her
ethnic origins. What matters is that he or she is not evil. We have not
violated the Scout principles laid down by our Movement's Founder, Lord
Robert Baden-Powell. But these and all other principles of civilised life
have been trampled by the evil which is tearing down our country.
We wish you a very nice time at the Jamboree and pleasant memories to take
home, to share with your families and friends. We shall be glad if only
once in the course of the Jamboree you all turn your thoughts to us, and
pray for us, for an end to this horror, and to wish us to meet at the next
Jamboree. Convey these wishes to your parents. They also can help to put an
end to the evil in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina is a small but proud country,
internationally recognised and respected by many friends. We Scouts of
Bosnia and Herzegovina believe that you too are our friends. Do not forget
Yours in Scouting,
Scouts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo, 30 July 1995
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The above message is from
Ray Saunders <email@example.com>
Director of Communications, European Scout Office,Tel: (+32.2) 346 16 86
299 Avenue Moliere, B-1060 Brussels, Belgium Fax: (+32.2) 346 00 07
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