The top envoys trying to negotiate peace in former Yugoslavia will fly to a Serb-held city in northwestern Bosnia for an emergency visit Friday because of reports of "ethnic cleansing," a U.N. spokesman said Thursday.
Fred Eckhard said the reports of an "ethnic-cleansing" campaign in Banja Luka had just reached envoys Cyrus Vance of the United Nations and Lord Owen of the European Community.Ethnic cleansing is a practice of driving one ethnic group from a region to repopulate with another and make territorial claims. Serbs have been widely accused of the practice, but charges also have been leveled against Muslims and Croats, whose vote on Feb. 29 to secede from Yugoslavia began Bosnia's civil war.
Eckhard declined to say which ethnic group was being pressured into leaving. But a spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said the Serbs had been pressuring "small groups" of Bosnian Croats and Muslims in the area to leave.
"It's been going on," said this spokesman, Fernando del Mundo. The non-Serbs are being urged to sign documents that they are giving up their property voluntarily, he said.
Eckhard said there also had been reports of bombings and intimidation.