U.S. State Department Geographic Bureaus: Europe and Canada Bureau

U.S. Department of State
95/11/01 Fact Sheet--Bosnia: Humanitarian Issues in the Balkans
Bureau of Public Affairs


Humanitarian Issues in the Balkans

Approximately 2.7 million people have received some form of humanitarian aid since the conflict in the Balkans began. Nearly 50 percent of Bosnia's current 3.5 million inhabitants are internally displaced persons, and at least 900,000 others are refugees.

The United States has led the world in responding to the humanitarian crisis in the region, donating $965 million to humanitarian relief operations either bilaterally, through the UN, or through non- governmental organizations.

Total humanitarian contributions through the UN system since November 1991 exceed 1.75 billion dollars, much of which was spent in Bosnia. An additional several hundred million dollars have been contributed via direct bilateral assistance mechanisms, the Red Cross, and non- governmental organizations.

In July 1992, the UN began a food airlift, using resources from the United States, U.K., France, Germany, and Canada. Later in the year, the UN undertook convoy deliveries of food and other essentials. Together, ground convoys and the airlift have delivered more than 700,000 metric tons of food to Bosnia, the largest airlift in history. The United States provided the largest quantity of food to the effort, and U.S. aircraft flew nearly 3,000 of the 8,200 Allied sorties. The airlift was suspended in Bosnia after the October 1995 cease-fire went into effect.

The UN and other relief organizations have helped provide shelter and medical care for tens of thousands in the region. They have also helped secure admissions and accommodations for refugees fleeing abroad and have spearheaded family reunification efforts, missing persons and war crimes investigations, prisoner of war exchanges, and negotiations toward restoration of utilities.

The large-scale international relief effort has not come without its price: twelve UN workers and a similar number of non-governmental relief staff have been killed while working to meet the needs of people in the region. International relief workers have faced intimidation and harassment and have endured the theft of relief supplies.

Some aspects of the international humanitarian effort would need to continue post-settlement. Private relief agencies and the UN would participate in the international effort to help the region return to normal.

November 1995 (###)

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