Hospital Copes With Wounded Children
TUZLA, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) _ Sead Bekric, 14, lay writhing in his hospital bed, begging the nurses to assure him he will see again. He will not. His eyes were destroyed by Serb fire in Srebrenica.
In another ward, Enes Babic, 6, screamed, ″Don’t touch me, don’t touch me 3/8″ and clutched his blanket as nurses tried to attend his wounds.
His face was pocked with shrapnel wounds suffered Monday when artillery fell on a Srebrenica school.
Both children were among about 650 Muslim refugees transported to Tuzla from the besieged enclave by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Twenty-eight of the refugees are now hospitalized in this town and 26 of them are children, according to Bosnian officials. The youngest is 18-month old Jasna Pasic, who has shrapnel wounds all over her small body.
Scores of children have been wounded in renewed Serb attacks, which have outraged the international community and brought calls for sterner sanctions against the Belgrade government.
U.N. refugee officials say 150 to 200 more wounded people still wait in Srebpenica, where medical conditions are primitive in the extreme.
Since Jan. 1, an estimated 240 wounded civilians have been treated at the KMC Mustafa Mujbegovic Hospital in this city 45 miles northwest of Srebrenica.
Hospital Director Hilmija Hadziefendic estimates about 20 percent have been children. Only a few have died, he said, because most of the critically wounded never get evacuated or die en route.
″We get mostly leg and arm wounds,″ he said. ″If they come here soon, they have a chance. Otherwise infection and exhaustion set in.″
Most of the children’s wards are located on basement floors, an important precaution at a sprawling hospital complex that was struck by tank fire last year. The city comes under occasional, light artillery attack.
Some cases are especially tragic.
Bekric told doctors he was helping tend the wounded during an artillery barrage on Srebrenica last Sunday. Suddenly, there was an intense flash of light and his eyes burned hot.
″It was all the blast effect,″ said Dr. Verica Vukotic. ″Both of his eyes were blown out. We cannot do anything. He is always asking ‘will I see again?’ All we can do is plastic surgery for his appearance.″
The trauma of combat wounds is sometimes made worse for children because some of them arrive without parents or other relatives.
The parents have either been killed or left behind in besieged enclaves during often chaotic evacuations.
In one ward, a blond, blue-eyed 3-year-old boy evacuated from Srebrenica played with nurses. His leg was wrapped in bandages because of a minor wound.
″He told us the name of his mother and grandmother,″ said one nurse. ″But we have no idea where they are.″