Under Serbian Siege, U.N. General Says Town's Situation Is Desperate

From Times Wire Services

Serbian artillery rained more shells on the battered Muslim town of Srebrenica on Sunday, and the U.N. peacekeeping commander holed up there reported that the situation is desperate.

Gen. Philippe Morillon has set up headquarters in the town, which has been under Serbian siege for 11 months, according to Laurens Jolles, a Dutch official of the United Nations' refugee agency.

Jolles, who came out of Srebrenica on Sunday, said: "He (Morillon) has put up his headquarters there; there is a United Nations flag there. He has his office there."

Morillon is trying to negotiate safe passage for an aid convoy and evacuation flights for the wounded.

But the convoy that set off for Srebrenica on Sunday was turned back by Serbian police backed up by an armored car.

The people of Srebrenica, in eastern Bosnia, have received no aid at all by road since December. The United States dropped supplies by parachute into the area Saturday night.

Jolles quoted refugees as saying that one of their number was killed by a falling aid package.

Morillon went to Srebrenica with a small team after a World Health Organization doctor reported that sick and wounded people there were dying at the rate of 30 a day.

The doctor, Briton Simon Mardel, described Sunday how Muslims in the area were dying in large numbers from starvation or wounds from Serbian artillery bombardments. He accused Serbian forces of purposely shelling civilians and U.N. personnel trying to help them.

He told a news conference in the Croatian capital of Zagreb that the torment and carnage he had witnessed in Srebrenica and nearby Konjevic Polje surpassed his experiences in Ethiopia, Liberia and Afghanistan.

In an interview Sunday with the French TF1 television channel, Morillon said the arrival of the convoy was "a matter of life or death."

He said he has urged the Americans to concentrate their airdrop effort on Srebrenica.

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