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Braving Mines and Darkness, Jewish Group Gets Aid to Sarajevo

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For the first time in months, a truck filled with humanitarian aid has arrived in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo.

The truck, belonging to the Bosnian Jewish community relief organization La Benevolencija, traveled in the middle of a moonless night Sunday, without headlights, over Mount Igman.

“It’s stupidity but the only way – that’s the life here,” said Ja’acov Finci, president of La Benevolencija.

Since the war began in Bosnia three year ago, La Benevolencija has been instrumental in organizing convoys to take Jews and non-Jews to safer areas outside of the besieged capital, and in bringing food, medicine and other relief supplies to the Jews and non-Jews who remain in Sarajevo.

Much of the aid has been provided by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

The supplies of food and medicine were ready to be sent into Sarajevo more than two months ago. But because roads are mined, no traffic was allowed to pass through.

The high risk of traveling on the mountain road into Sarajevo was brought to light again over the weekend when three American diplomats were killed when their car skidded off the muddy road and exploded.

The president of the Jewish community of Bosnia, Ivan Ceresnjes, sent a message of condolence to President Clinton in the aftermath of those deaths.

In his message, sent via the World Jewish Congress, Ceresnjes said he prayed “these human losses should be the last ones in this crazy and brutal merry-go- round.”

According to JDC officials, the La Benevolencija truck will continue to shuttle back and forth between Kiseljac and Sarajevo to bring in some 60 tons of supplies furnished by an international network of donors.

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