A U.N. aid convoy rumbled out of Sarajevo Tuesday on a newly reopened road. But few Sarajevans are likely to leave, afraid of Serb attacks and unable to get passports from a government anxious to prevent a mass exodus.
Although the road was supposed to open when a U.S.-mediated cease-fire took effect almost two weeks ago, U.N. peacekeepers first had to clear hundreds of mines.The aid convoy, escorted by U.N. troops, headed west on the road toward Kiseljak, about 15 miles from Sarajevo.
U.N. officials said they hoped the road would open to civilian traffic within two days. "The move is another substantial step toward the lifting of the siege of Sarajevo," said U.N. spokesman Chris Gunness.
Many Sarajevans say that even if they can use the route, they won't for fear of attack by Serbs who control the territory around it.
Yellow tape with occasional red signs warning "Mines" still lined the road Tuesday in the western Sarajevo suburb of Stup. The area was fiercely contested early in the war, and every building had been burned, pocked with bullets or shrapnel or devastated by fighting.
The reception some Serbs gave U.N. peacekeepers and foreign journalists Tuesday was far from friendly. A woman who passed by with her son snapped, "You all should be slaughtered." A 60-year-old man harangued the foreigners about NATO bombing of the Serbs.
Truckers say they prefer the treacherous road over Mount Igman, which is protected by U.N. and government guns.
"I would never use this road as long as the Serbs are there," said Selma Kasumagic, an aid worker.