AJR logo     

 AJR  Features

From AJR,   March 1994  issue

Profiting From the Misery in Sarajevo   

By Unknown

Valter Peric Street, where the fires from the rubbish...ward off the rats and light the facades of the buildings, is lined by old blocks of flats, full of families, but no electricity, no light, no sign of life... The city smells of rot...

Inside, along the corridor, down the stairs, Lelia is playing the grand piano by the doorway.

"What can I get you, madame?" Lelia asks.

"What do you have?"

"There's whiskey, wine...French cognac," she replies...

The U.N. soldiers are making themselves and the Sarajevo mafia rich. The locals are the middlemen for a trade in cigarettes, alcohol, food, prostitution, and heroin, worth millions of dollars.

It is a trade that is stripping the people of Sarajevo of all their savings and valuables. So far, 22 U.N. soldiers – 19 Ukrainians and three French – have been sent home for suspected war profiteering. But the U.N. knows it is merely scratching the surface...

The U.N. soldiers are now war profiteers and are out of control. They are feasting on a dying city, where new heroin addicts are treated weekly; where underage girls sell sex to U.N. soldiers so they can eat; and where an old man clutching a black velvet pouch tries to convince a teenage French soldier that his wife's wedding ring is worth more than a few packs of Marlboros. l

by Maggie O'Kane for the Guardian