Bosnia's Refugees: ‘My biggest worry was my family'

Dragan Ungar (Photo: Blake Ezra Photography)

Dragan Ungar (Photo: Blake Ezra Photography)

DRAGAN UNGAR, 65, LEFT SARAJEVO IN 1992. A BANK CLERK IN BOSNIA, HE STARTED WORK IN LONDON AS A CARETAKER AT JEWISH CARE, LATER BECOMING ADMINISTRATOR AT THE HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS CENTRE IN HENDON. HIS WIFE VERA IS ALSO A JEWISH CARE ADMINISTRATOR AND THEY HAVE TWO ADULT SONS.

He recalls that “nobody was safe when the situation started to get bad” in his homeland. There was constant fighting, gunshots and shelling in the streets. Soon there was no electricity, telephone lines or radio to communicate with the outside world. I felt that our lives and country were going to be destroyed, but my biggest worry was for my family. I arranged for them to leave before I did.

“Politicians might call the war something else but to me, these were not freedom fighters — they were gangs. I went into hiding because I had a conscription call to fight. I ignored it. Who or what would I be fighting for?”

Mr Ungar says the refugees could not have managed without the help of WJR and Jewish Care. Although some of the group felt sorrow at what they had left behind, he did not. “I left with everything I needed — my family was safe.”

Last updated: 3:01pm, December 3 2012