Abandonment and Neglect in Gorazde.
In his “Safe Area Gorazde” Joe Sacco describes his experience visiting a Muslim enclave during the Bosnian War of 1991-1995. Tragically, this work is based on testimonies of residents of Gorazde, allegedly a UN-protected area where Bosnian Muslims are able to take refuge to avoid the ethnic cleansing perpetrated by the Serbian army. Gorazde is anything but protected which Sacco demonstrates throughout the book by ridiculing the UN and the US who are able to and responsible for protecting the residents of such enclaves, but instead turn a blind eye to what was going on. “…the U.N. extended safe area status to other Bosnian enclaves, including Gorazde. But the U.N. had yet to work out what the concept meant”, Sacco says (Sacco, 148). These designated “safe” areas are completely abandoned by the authorities who promise to watch over them, despite being some of the most dangerous places on Earth. The entire world seems to ignore the brutalities going on there – the destruction of towns, massacre of men, raping of women, and the murder and neglect of children. The residents have nowhere to go, have no hope, and little or no access to basic necessities. These conditions and the abandonment which leads to them is the central theme of this work. Sacco wants us to feel this situation and he succeeds. By the end of “Safe Area Gorazde” one is left seething. “Safe area”, as Sacco’s title suggests, was a new entry in the Orwellian lexicon during the Bosnian conflict. As Hitchens states in the introduction to the book, “the contempt is reserved for the temporizing, buck passing, butt covering “peacekeepers” who strove to find that swamp of low and “middle” ground into which the innocent are being shoveled by the aggressive” (Hitchens, Introduction). This is a great, if brief, explanation of the evolution of the word “safe”. The extreme nature of the situation in Gorazde immediately involves the reader’s emotions. Sacco’s brilliance is...
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