The death of 12 newborns from Banja Luka -

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Period: Yugoslav Wars

Region: Bosnia's Krajina

The death of 12 newborns from Banja Luka

The death of 12 newborns from Banja Luka is a horrible crime happened on May and June of 1992 during the War in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1990s and collapse of Yugoslavia. In the Intensive Care Unit of maternity ward in Banja Luka 12 newborns died due to lack of oxygen necessary for adequate treatment. Oxygen shortage was a result of blockage of Serbian territory by Croatian and Muslim military forces in the area of Semberija in the northeast of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The death of these newborns and increasing lack of basic groceries and hygiene supply triggered the great military operation “Corridor 92” when the forces of the Army of Republika Srpska and the units of the Serbian military forces of Krajina confronted the regular forces of the Croatian Army and the Croatian paramilitary forces in Bosnia, so called Hrvatsko Vijeće Odbrane, and the Muslim Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The confrontation lasted for two weeks and resulted in the break of blockage allowing better supply of Western Serbian territories.

Two babies managed to survive, but not for long and not without consequences.



SFR Yugoslavia was a federal state made up of 6 republics (FR Slovenia, FR Croatia, SR Bosnia and Herzegovina, SR Montenegro, SR Serbia and SR Macedonia). Both Yugoslavia and the JNA were, by definition, conceived on the principle of “brotherhood and unity” of all peoples and nationalities who lived in the SFRY.

The social and economic system of the SFRY was socialism. The 1974 Constitution of Yugoslavia brought about the decentralization of the SFRY, which later enabled the separatist forces in Slovenia and Croatia, and later in Bosnia and Herzegovina, to begin the break-up of Yugoslavia, followed by bloody wars and persecution.

In all the constitutions of Yugoslavia, the Yugoslav People's Army was defined as the only armed force in the territory of the SFRY, and therefore the only internationally recognized military entity. At the end of 1989, the SFRY Assembly passed amendments to the Constitution, thus replacing the one-party system with the multiparty system. Which meant that in addition to the only SKJ party, other parties could now be formed.

At the end of January 1990, the Alliance of Communists of Yugoslavia collapsed, at the famous 14th SKJ Congress in Belgrade, when there were sharp verbal clashes between Slovenian and Serbian delegates over the vision of the future of the common state of the SFRY.

The Slovenian delegation left the session, immediately followed by the delegation of the FR Croatia, which brought the issue of the congress into question. After them, the delegations of the FR of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the FR of Macedonia also left the congress. Thus, after 45 years, the rule of the communists in SFRY.



Bosnia and Herzegovina was the central Republic of Yugoslavia where Muslims, Serbs and Croats lived along with national minorities. On November 18, 1990 the first multiparty elections were held after WW2. The government was formed by the anticommunist coalition parties: SDA, SDS and HDZ. Member of Parliament who received the majority of votes was Fikret Abdic (47.4%), a successful businessman from Velika Kladusa (Northwest Bosnia). But he was overpowered by muslim extremists because he didn't want war, nor conflict with Serbs. In fact, he was just a bait for muslim voters on the elections. Thus, president of the BiH Presidency became Alija Izetbegovic, the pre-war prisoner and author of the notorious chauvinist "Islamic Declaration". President of the Parlament of BiH became Momcilo Krajisnik from SDS party, and Prime Minister of Federal Republic of BiH became Jure Prelivan (Croat). This coalition had endured for 15 month. It collapsed at beginning of the war in BiH, in April 1992.

Leading members of the Muslim Party of Democratic Action- Alija Izetbegovic, Haris Silajdzic, Ejup Ganic and others decided in 1991 that they didn't want Federal Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina to remain part of Yugoslavia, and that they wanted an independent state of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Here the plans of SDA and HDZ coincided, but both parties wanted to have an ethnically and religiously cleansed states. Bosnian's Croats wanted to merge with Croatia, and the Muslims to create Islamic republic. The idea

Izetbegovic participated in WW II in notorious Bosnian as Muslim 13th Waffen Mountain Division of the SS Handschar (1st Croatian) member, known for the WW II genocide of Serbs

of ​​an independent Bosnia and Herzegovina was further spread by the media. As early as October 1991 newspapers in Sarajevo published open threats to Serbian people. Inter alia, there was announcement of renewal of the so-called Handchar division, Ustasha unit from period of 1941-1945, which committed horrible crimes against Serbs in the Independent State of Croatia. This division had been mostly filled with Muslims. It is worth mentioning that Ustasha atrocities in Bosnia and Herzegovina had reached its peak in places such as Prebilovci, Drakulic, Bileca, Gacko, Donja Gradina, Kupres. 

August 1991 witnessed organized arming of paramilitary forces of Muslims and Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina which was conducted  through channels of the political parties SDA and HDZ, with the aim of attack on the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA). In October 1991 establishment of local committees of paramilitary units "Green Berets" and "Patriotic League B&H" occured. In the second half of 1991 Mostar was full of members of the JNA, who came from Croatia (Dalmatia and Dubrovnik area), from where they were expelled or withdrawn. They were withdrawn at the end of March 1992 in Uzice (Serbia).

On March 1, 1992 a referendum on the separation of Bosnia and Herzegovina from Yugoslavia was organized with 62.4% of voters having voted for independence. A day later in Sarajevo, members of the "Green Berets", led by a criminal Ramiz Delalić aka Celo, started shoting at a Serbian wedding party at Bascarsija having killed the groom's father Nikola Gardovic and wounded priest Radenko Mikovic. This was an event that announced the bloody war in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the 1990s, but this also served as cause to dissolve still mixed police in Sarajevo. After that, numerous attacks on Serbian positions in Bosnia and Herzegovina and on members of the JNA occured (Sijekovac, Kupres, Sarajevo, Tuzla...). International representatives remained silent to these events.



Situation in Banja Luka

Banja Luka is the largest city in Bosanska Krajina, western part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, respectively. Banja Luka is situated at the bottom of mountain Manjača and Čemernica and at the mouth of  Vrbanja river in Vrbas. The first evidence on human civilization in this area are traced back to prehistoric time, and later, Illyrians, Celts and Romans are known to have lived here. In the 6th century the area was inhabited by the South Slavs. From 7th to 12th century, the area of Banja Luka and Bosnia as a whole were the part of the Byzantine Empire, witnessing occasional invasions of Hungarians.

1494 is traced as the time when the name Banja Luka was first mentioned.

Osmanli Turks came to Balkan and during their attempts to invade Vienna, they conquered Banja Luka and Bosnia in 1528. They brought Islam and in 1533 Banja Luka became the centre of Sanjak of Bosnia. Frequent Austro-Turkish wars in 17th and 18th centuries led to desolation of Banja Luka and its countryside, especially in 1737.

After the Congress of Berlin in 1878, Austro- Hungarian Empire annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina causing deep discontent among Serbian people and Muslims as well. The Court in Vienna increasingly conducted terror and tyranny against Serbian people and this led to assassination of Austrian Archduke and Crown Prince, Franz Ferdinand, committed by Serb Gavrilo Princip together with the members of the organization Young Bosnia (Mlada Bosna) on Vidovdan in 1914, which is seen as a trigger of WW1.

After the Great War, union of the South Slavs into a single country happened on December 1, 1918. According to administrative division, Banja Luka became part of the Vrbas Banate. The town then faced economic and cultural development.

Attack launched by Germany and its allies on the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1941, known as April war, included terrific bombing of Banja Luka on April 9, 1941. Soon after, Banja Luka fell under the authority of the Independent State of Croatia. Within 4 years, Ustashe committed horrific crimes against Serbian people and the largest crimes happened in February 1942 in the villages: Drakulić, Motike, Šargovac and Rakovac mine when 2,300 people were killed in one day (including 800 children).

After the Second World War, Banja Luka had facilitating economic growth until October, 27 1969 when a strong earthquake hit the city. It's worth to note that during the socialism 30 state companies operated in Banja Luka.

According to the 1991 census Banja Luka municipality had 200,000 citizens, or 67% of Serbs, 15% of Croats and 15% of Muslims.


War events

The city and surroundings of Banja Luka didn't face significant war events, but near Banja Luka Serbian soldiers participated in severe confrontations against the Muslim and Croatian forces which most of the time initiated joint actions.

The Army of Republic of Croatia committed aggression against Bosnia and Herzegovina, first in the northeastern parts of B&H in countryside of Brčko, Odžak and Orašje, and then in the southwestern parts of B&H: Čapljina, Duvno, Lijevno, Kupres…

This blockage of Semberija and Bosanska Posavina at the end of April and in May of 1992 led to break of communication between the western parts of Serbian Republic in B&H and Republic of Srpska Krajina and Serbia. The aim of Muslims and Croats was to surround Serbs from all sides and destroy them.


Death of newborns

Beside food, Banja Luka lacked medical supplies. Many appeals for help were sent but without any success. Even the UN Security Council and UNICEF ignored appeals.

Soon after, due to lack of oxygen 12 newborns died at the Pediatric Clinic in Banja Luka. Doctors tried to use industrial oxygen which they got from the Republika Srpska Army and several businessman and citizens, but this wasn’t enough to save babies.


Name of mother Date of birth Name of baby Date of death
 Dusanka Djukic  22.05.1992    22.05.1992
 Zivka Knezevic  22.05.1992    22.05.1992
 Fatima Dedic  23.05.1992    27.05.1992
 Zeljka Tubic  28.05.1992    28.05.1992
 Zliha Murica-Delic  01.06.1992    01.06.1992
 Safeta Medic  26.05.1992    02.06.1992
 Nadja Puska  29.05.1992    01.06.1992
 Dragoslava Maric  03.06.1992   05.06.1992
 Milena Sandic  15.06.1992    16.06.1992
 Dragica Komljekovic   01.06.1992   19.06.1992
 Majda Djuran  17.06.1992   17.06.1992
 Grozda Raus   28.05.1992  Vladimir 19.06.1992


Babies that survived

Slađana Kobas was born on June 18, 1992 and she was the baby that fought to survive from May 22 until June 19, 1992. The lack of oxygen seriously damaged her health leading to permanent visual impairment, brain and lung damage. Later she fought bone cancer. She died on February 9, 2006 at the age of 13. She was buried on February 11 in Prijedor.

Marko Medaković was born on June 21, 1992. After delivery he was without oxygen for 10 minutes, which caused him to breath with ⅓ of lungs and suffer from cerebral paralysis, hematoma on brain and spine curvature. Snježana Brezo made a documentary about him which was presented at the Film Festival in Berlin.



Seven days after the death of the last baby, the Republika Srpska Army together with the the Army of Srpska Krajina established corridor with Serbia allowing regular supply of oxygen.

Later, people named this historical military success “The Corridor of Life” because it allowed delivery of new babies, as general of the Republic of Srpska Army, Momir Talić, said: “I don’t want children to die anymore”.