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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 October 2005, 11:54 GMT 12:54 UK
Scars haunt survivors of Sarajevo
By Peter Burdin
Producer, Return To Sarajevo

Market blast in Sarajevo in 1995
The war between former neighbours has left deep mistrust
It is 10 years since the guns around Sarajevo fell silent when a peace deal reached at Dayton, Ohio ended a war that had raged for three and a half years.

The BBC's World Affairs Correspondent Allan Little returned to Sarajevo and Bosnia to track down some of the people he had met during the war and to try to make sense of a conflict which saw civilians as acceptable, legitimate targets.

Eyup Ganic was Bosnia's vice president throughout the war.

Eyup lived through the two-year siege of Sarajevo, sharing the shelling and sniper attacks and the food shortages and privations with his fellow citizens.

He admitted that he and his fellow Sarajevans had been naive. They had not expected war, and when it came and Serb forces surrounded the city they had been unprepared for the suffering it wrought.

Today, Eyup has left politics and is running a private university on a campus near the site of some of the city's worst atrocities - such as the bread queue massacre where more than 20 people were killed when a shell fell on a crowd waiting to buy what little food the city had.


Students at his university now study mathematics and computers.

"This is our revenge," explained Eyup. "We suffered in the war but now we're preparing our young people to take their place in the new Europe.

"We realise that education is the key to our future, not fighting, and we want our new generation of young Bosnians to contribute to the wider Europe that is being created. We hope Bosnia will be able to join the EU one day and play a full role in that process."

This war was the result of the minds of human beings, of my neighbours, so you tell me how to trust again?
Dr Jasmina Aliabegovic

Our correspondent witnessed the heroic efforts of the young doctors like Jasmina Aliabegovic who tended the war wounded in Sarajevo's main hospital.

Her house was close to the front line and was shelled twice. Everyday she had to run across "sniper alley" to reach her work at the hospital. She reflected on what life was like in Sarajevo during those days:

"You never knew when another shell would land. The people in this city really suffered, we were starving and in winter it was freezing.

"We had no electricity and I remember being at home in the darkness with my parents with just a candle, listening to the radio which was saying only bad news, and my brother away on the frontlines, not knowing if he was dead or alive."

Jasmina's life at the hospital was equally stark.

"We'd keep working and working and the injured and wounded would keep coming and coming and the result was still zero," she said.

Victims at hospital in Sarajevo 1995
Doctors working at the time were pushed to the limits

"The whole two years were terrible and we were working in awful conditions. One day there was a massacre and they brought in 20 victims, including a woman without a head. Then 10 minutes later they brought in her head. I couldn't move I was so scared."

Jasmina risked her young life every day so that she could treat the wounded and the dying. But the peace that followed was eventually too much for her.

She is still a doctor but she decided she could not live in Sarajevo anymore. Today, she is making a new life in Switzerland and trying to put the horrors of the war behind her.

"I will not feel trust again. I was really shocked at the cruelty of human beings. This war was the result of the minds of human beings, of my neighbours, so you tell me how to trust again?"

One of her patients was Farouk Shabanovic. When the BBC first met him he was 20 years old and had just been shot by a sniper and was in hospital.

No hate

At the time, he refused to hate the man who had callously shot him through the spine.

"I just ask myself what kind of man is it that could do this," he told our correspondent. "I won't get better if I hate and he won't be worse if I hate. If you hate you're a loser."

Ten years on, Farouk is still paralysed, yet speaking from his wheelchair, he still refuses to hate. He set up a lobby group called the Centre For Self Reliance and campaigned for access rights in Sarajevo for wheelchair users. He says it kept his mind off his injury.

He is also successful graphic designer about to stage his first exhibition in Paris. He insists it is important not to get bitter about what happened:

"I don't feel I have the right to be angry. Since the moment I was wounded I felt there was some kind of principle inside me, telling me I have so many things to be happy about and so many things to be grateful for.

"Materially, I'm still struggling for existence but inside I'm always feeling happy, much happier than angry."

Despite the inspiration of Farouk and the bravery of Jasmina, our correspondent discovered that the Sarajevo he returned to still bears the scars of its years of war.

The wounds are still raw. It has not forgotten, and it has not learned to trust those who sat on the hills for three long years and inflicted such misery.

You can hear Allan Little's Return To Sarajevo on BBC World Service and on BBC News Interactive at 0905BST on 19 October.

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