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‘Survival Guide’ to Sarajevo Advises on Life in Besieged Capital

February 16, 1994

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Suada Kapic hasn’t been willing to risk a return trip to her native Sarajevo for nearly a year because she twisted her ankle stepping off a curb in Washington and still can’t run well.

″In Sarajevo, running is the first rule of life,″ she says, explaining that residents of the beleaguered Bosnian capital must run as fast as possible in areas where snipers are most active.

Ms. Kapic, 40, is promoting a 95-page ″Survival Guide″ to Sarajevo that combines gallows humor with horrifying color photos of destruction.

A Sarajevo survivor, she won an award here last year from the federally funded National Endowment for Democracy for her work heading a group devoted to providing cultural events in the city.

The guide says nothing about how to get to Sarajevo, a thriving and accessible city of about 500,000 in peacetime. But it has a lot to say about leaving the city, which is besieged by Serbian guns.

″Officially, there is no such thing as going out of town,″ the guide advises. ″Since April of 1992 the city has been forced to turn (in on) itself.″

But the guide suggests that for a bribe of 100 to 200 German marks ($57 to $114) you can buy a chance to escape into the hills by crossing the airport runways. The risks come not only from snipers, but also from the U.N. troops who guard the airport.

One Sarajevan was caught and returned eight times, the guide says. The ninth time he wrote his obituary before trying. He may also have fortified himself with Sarajevo cognac, for which the guide provides the recipe:

-3-4 spoons of sugar


-ethyl alcohol

″The quality of (the) cognac depends on the brand of the alcohol and on the quality of the Sarajevo water, preferably brought from one of the protected wells. Fry the sugar.″

Water is one of the city’s big problems. Shortages may last for weeks because of bombings and power outages. Waits at the wells are at least three hours, sometimes under sniper fire, the guide says.

Good food and drink still can be found at the Holiday Inn, and the guide recommends four restaurants. The city’s chess club is still open and is reported to have an excellent and expensive buffet. Proprietors would not say how they get their supplies through the siege lines.

Ms. Kapic has had 25,000 copies of the guide printed in Croatia. She hopes to have them in American bookstores by the end of this month. They will sell for $20, with half going to a fund for children in Sarajevo.

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