IN a policy switch, the United Nations will move its relief convoys through Bosnia under armed escort without negotiating their passage with the warring factions, a UN official said yesterday.
Rather than ask for permission to travel along key aid routes - which is often delayed or denied by the combatants - the UN now says it will simply give notice that its trucks are coming through, escorted by armed peacekeepers. The first convoy to move under these new rules is planned for today from Metkovic, on the border between Bosnia and Croatia, to Sarajevo.
Lt. Gen. Michael Rose's decision to move relief convoys without negotiating their passage marks a dramatic break. In less than a month as peacekeeping commander in Bosnia, he has negotiated a city-wide cease-fire between Muslim-led government forces and rebel Serbs in Sarajevo and helped broker a countrywide cease-fire between Muslims and rebel Croats.
Peace talks started in Washington on Saturday between the Muslim-led Bosnian government, the Croatian government, and the Bosnian Croat representatives to try to turn the cease-fire into a permanent peace.
Intense diplomatic efforts to craft a comprehensive political solution to Europe's worst conflict since World War II have given General Rose a chance to finally establish the UN's right to deliver humanitarian aid in Bosnia without getting permission from combatants. The general could also call on NATO warplanes patrolling the skies over Bosnia if his convoys are obstructed. The use of ``necessary force'' to deliver humanitarian aid, approved in UN resolutions in 1992, has never been invoked. Hundreds of UN convoys have been delayed or turned back over the course of the 22-month Bosnian war because one or more of the warring Muslim, Serb, and Croat factions failed to give permission for them to pass. Bombs explode in Northern Ireland
SEVERAL blazes broke out at shops in Northern Ireland early yesterday in an apparent firebomb blitz, police said.
No casualties were reported in the fires at Glengormley, Lisburn, Bangor, and Dunmurry - all towns close to Belfast. The explosions followed an all but final rejection by Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams of an Anglo-Irish peace plan for Northern Ireland. Mr. Adams told Sinn Fein's annual conference over the weekend that his party, the political wing of the Irish Republican Army, would shun Britain and Ireland's appeals to endorse it until the London government clarified the text.