Sarajevo gets ready to mark 27th anniversary of longest siege in modern history

NEWS 05.04.2019 12:20
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Source: REUTERS/Chris Helgren

Friday marks the 27th anniversary of the beginning of the siege of Sarajevo, marked by the deaths of Suada Dilberovic and Olga Sucic at the then Vrbanja bridge, who were gunned down by sniper fire on April 5, 1992.

Suada Dilberovic (25) was a medical student from Dubrovnik, Croatia, who studied at the Sarajevo University, and Olga Sucic (34) who was from Sarajevo, was a clerk at the State Assembly. They were killed during a protest staged by Sarajevans, requesting that enemy forces remove the barricades and that they stand down.

Their deaths marked the beginning of a 44-month long siege of Sarajevo, the longest siege in modern history, during which 11,541 Sarajevans were killed, of which 1,601 children. Over 50,000 people wounded.

In honour of Suada and Olga, the bridge was renamed into the Suada and Olga Bridge.

During the siege, a Sarajevo airlift was established which was the longest airlift after the Berlin airlift. During that time, over 10,000 cargo planes landed on the Sarajevo airport.

According to the UNHCR, the airlift was not enough in terms of meeting the needs of Sarajevans, but it was definitely the safest. While food and supply convoys were stopped regularly, due to misunderstandings and armed conflicts, the Sarajevo airport received between 20 and 25 planes daily, or 10 tons of food per aircraft.

During the siege, 329 shells fell onto Sarajevo, daily. The city also holds one of the saddest records in history – on July 22, 1993, a total of 3,777 shells were fired on Sarajevo. The constant shelling created significant damage, but most damage was done to civilian, cultural and religious buildings.

Over 120 Yugoslav National Army’s artillery pieces and 250 tanks were placed in the hills around Sarajevo. These guns would later get into the hands of the Army of the then self-proclaimed Republika Srpska.

An example of the devastation which the siege produced in the city was the Markale marketplace massacre, when shells fired from enemy lines hit the marketplace in February 1994, claiming the lives of 68 Sarajevans.

The siege began in the night between fourth and fifth of April, 1992 and it ended on February 29th, 1996.