It is exactly 10 years since the Croatian army launched a massive campaign against Serbs in the Krajina region.
In the Serbian capital Belgrade, survivors, many of whom are still effectively refugees, have been marking the anniversary through a protest march to the Croatian embassy. “Operation Storm” was the culmination of several years of conflict between Serbs and Croats over Krajina, despite international efforts to broker a peace. The campaign resulted in some 200,000 people streaming across the border into neighbouring states, in the largest population movement in the Balkans crisis. The Krajina region was all but laid to waste. Most of those who fled took little with them; what they left behind was soon looted, often by the Croatian army.
The refugee population in Serbia-Montenegro now numbers some half a million. One man explains: “When we came [to Serbia] we had nothing, eight of us used to sleep on a concrete floor. Later on the neighbours came to help. Everyone gave us something. Quite frankly, when we arrived here, we did not have enough to eat. Without help we would have starved.” Another refugee says there is no going back. She adds: “I’d like something of my own, a house, a job for my husband. Not to be dependent on others to bring me clothing and food.” “Operation Storm” was over in just three days. It has been described as the biggest single act of ethnic cleansing in the Yugoslav civil war. Some 2,600 Krajina Serbs have still not been accounted for.