There are 160 Croat families in this wealthy Vojvodina town. After the fall of Krajina, regardless of their will, they entered a new cycle of violence which is almost unavoidable. According to the local inhabitants, refugees were at first offering "friendly exchange of houses" to the Croats and then began with threats and assaults.
Two days after the arrival of first "brave Krajina Serbs" to Serbia all Croat owned houses have been marked with "occupied" and the name of the family which had "occupied" the new property. The Croats avoid conversation, and if they do consent to talk to the journalists, they demand to stay anonymous. The majority of them emphasize that they have lived in this territory for centuries and that they do not wish to leave this area.
Croats from Novi Banovci emphasize that the refugees were given precise lists by "an organization from Belgrade". Unofficially, that organization is the Serb Radical Party, but none of our collocutors was willing to confirm that.
Since the arrival of the first refugees to Novi Banovci only a few Croat families have decided to emigrate to Croatia. "Those people have close relatives or children in Croatia. They had been planning to move to Croatia for a while. I don't have anyone there; I've never been in Croatia. My ancestors arrived here 300 years ago; I'm not going anywhere. I understand that these people have lost their homes, I understand their suffering and really want to help them. But that doesn't mean that what happened to them is my fault," says seventy-years-old Croat woman.
Ten soldiers from Glina [a town in Krajina] have moved in to the house of a local Catholic priest. They had arrived before the majority of their compatriots made it to Yugoslavia. They brought with them a truck and a fuel truck full of oil. They angrily refuse to talk to the NIN journalist. "Has Milosevic sent you to question us, huh? It wasn't enough that you betrayed us - now you want to pester us too," says one of the young men. After a short discussion he demands that we immediately leave the street, because he is not a refugee.
Local Serbs object that their Croat neighbors "celebrated on August 5 the victory of their army." "Not all of them did it, and it is true that it was an old religious holiday which they celebrate every year. But this year they made a bigger celebration than ever before. Besides that, the refugees at first politely asked the Croats to let them moved in until they find other accommodation, but they refused. They are not as innocent as they pretend to be," says a thirty-years-old entrepreneur. The village is hopelessly divided, neighbors are not greeting each other any more, and all of them have an explanation for the exodus of the local Croats. Only the Krajina refugees are keeping quiet.
The Novi Banovci case was marked with the quick reaction of the police which, according to the local Croats, "functioned without a problem." They add that this means that this state has finally decided to protect all of its citizens; one Croat even suggests that "the Krajina refugees wanted to use Slobodan Milosevic's absence from the country (he was in Russia). As soon as he returned the assaults stopped," he added.