Italian Relief Ship Ready to Open ‘Humanitarian Corridor’ With AM-Yugoslavia, Bjt
BRINDISI, Italy (AP) _ An Italian navy ship loaded with food and medicine left early Monday on a relief trip for Yugoslavia’s war-scarred coastal cities.
The San Marco was scheduled to arrive later Monday morning in Dubrovnik, a key site in Yugoslavia’s 5-month-old civil war.
The medieval port has been blockaded by the Yugoslav federal army for seven weeks and civilians have grown desparate since water and electricity have been cut off.
Officials from UNICEF, as well as Italy’s immigration minister, Margherita Boniver, and the French minister for humanitarian affairs, Bernard Kouchner, traveled to Dubrovnik last week to seek permission for international aid vessels to sail to the Yugoslav coast.
Yugoslavia agreed on Sunday to receive the San Marco, following two public appeals by Italian President Francesco Cossiga.
By Sunday evening, 50 tons of whole wheat biscuits, bottled water, milk and other food had been loaded on the San Marco. Antibiotics and children’s medicines were also being put on board.
Seven Italian navy doctors and eight Red Cross nurses were traveling to treat residents wounded in the shelling of Dubrovnik.
″We are prepared for anything,″ said a navy anesthesiologist, Maurizio De Girolamo.
A navy spokesman, Cmdr. Maurizio Ferro, said the ship could hold up to 1,000 refugees, if Italian and Yugoslav authorities decided to evacuate them.
Ms. Boniver, in a telephone interview with Italian state television from Dubrovnik, said the fact that Yugoslavia was allowing the San Marco to arrive was ″extraordinary news.″
She said it showed that ″the humanitarian corridor...is working.″