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Problem Kids, Teen-agers Left Behind in Evacuation Effort With PM-Yugoslavia, Bjt

August 7, 1992

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) _ Eight-year-old Muhamed Bosnjo would like to go to America, even though he can’t find it on a map. His friend Nusret Krasnic, 9, has never left Sarajevo but fancies living in France.

A new scheme by the Medjasi Children’s Embassy charity that would allow foreigners to foster orphans for the duration of Bosnia’s horrific war could be the boys’ chance to leave their orphanage for better homes abroad.

Krasnic and Bosnjo need them: they are two of the problem children and teen-agers left behind in Sarajevo’s main Ljubica Ivezic orphanage after dozens of its babies and toddlers were evacuated last weekend.

″It would be good for them to be outside, but the risk is getting them out,″ said Ermin Terko, a social worker at the orphanage. ″You saw what happened last time.″

A bus speeding 50 tots to new homes in Germany came under fire last Saturday night as it left Sarajevo. A 2-year-old Serbian girl and a 1-year-old Muslim boy were killed. The next day, as the bus resumed its journey, Serb militiamen pulled nine children off the bus, saying they were ethnic Serbs.

Dusko Tomic, secretary-general of Medjasi, announced Thursday the new scheme for children up to 10 years old affected by the war. The charity is focusing its efforts on that age group on the assumption older children can better withstand the siege.

While Bosnia is at war, foreigners who can certify they are fit parents can offer foster homes to orphans from the former Yugoslav republic. After the war, they can either return the kids or start adoption procedures.

Tomic is also appealing to foreigners to sponsor seaside trips, medical care and the purchase of artificial limbs for children from Sarajevo and other devastated parts of Bosnia.

The plan still has to be approved by the Bosnian government. Tomic also hopes for cooperation with U.N. peacekeepers in Sarajevo, although the charity and U.N. officials traded accusations over who was responsible for making the decision to evacuate the 50 children Saturday.

″Some Sarajevans fear these children, if they leave, will forget their roots and become Germans, French or Englishmen,″ said Tomic. ″But our motto is ’better a live Englishman than a dead Bosnian.‴

Unless the world acts soon, ″every day there’ll be more kids killed, wounded, more kids with no arms, no legs,″ he added.

Interested foster parents should contact Medjasi with a document from their country’s health or social authorities stating they are fit parents, Tomic explained.

They would have to finance the children’s evacuation, by land, if the United Nations decided not to fly children out, he said.

Other donations would allow children respite from the war at Croatia or Slovenian seaside resorts, he said. Sponsors would receive a list of children they have helped and where they are staying.

A commission of prominent Sarajevans would be set up to monitor the funds, he said.

Nusret and Muhamed are more likely to benefit from the second scheme. Although they are the only two of about 100 children at the orphanage under 10, they may scare off many interested foster parents.

Nusret arrived in the orphanage two days ago after spending nearly five months in a Sarajevo hotel with other refugees from his hillside suburb, Sirokaca. His father died on the front; his mother in a shelling attack.

Asked how he passed the time in the hotel, the buck-toothed youngster blushed: ″We set the casino on fire.″

Would he like to leave the orphanage for Europe? To Germany or France? ″Yes, but not to Germany, that’s where you have to behave yourself.″

It will be difficult to evacuate Muhamed, who suffers from mild epilepsy. His father is dead; his mother left him in the home at birth but now comes to visit.

A quiet child, he prefers ″helping″ orphanage staff in the kitchen near the bombed-out cellar that wasn’t much use as a bomb shelter.

Would he like to live in America?

Shy, he stuck his hands in the pockets of his red shorts and said he had never heard of America.

Germany was more familiar. ″It’s up that hill, behind my school, and I’d have to go in a plane. I like planes 3/8″

A group of teen-agers gathered round as visitors left the orphanage.

″Why can’t we leave?″ shouted one. Another: ″Nobody cares about us 3/8 We’ll never get out 3/8″

As the visitors left, Muhamed suddenly overcame his shyness and asked: ″Does that mean we can go to America tomorrow?″

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Those interested in helping can write to the Medjasi Children’s Embassy charity in Croatia, where mail service is considered dependable:

Medjasi

Prva Djieci

Ambasada u Svijetu

58000 Split

Croatia

Those interested in making donations should contact Olga Savic at the Handels und Effectenbank in Zurich, Switzerland. Its telephone number is 41-1-36228.

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