* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.
May 27, 2014 - Los Angeles, Calif. – Following massive flooding that has killed more than fifty people and displaced tens of thousands more, International Medical Corps teams are on the ground in the Balkans assessing humanitarian needs and coordinating with local partners. International Medical Corps will distribute over €1 million worth of food items donated by Luftfahrt Ohne Grenzen Germany with support from the Red Cross.
The heaviest rains in more than a century sparked floods across Bosnia and Serbia, leading to the evacuations of more than 930,000 people. Up to two million people could potentially be affected. Rainfall also caused more than 4,000 landslides in Bosnia and Herzegovina, prompting a landmine warning as 120,000 unexploded mines remain and could be unearthed by the waters.
International Medical Corps’ Emergency Response Teams in the region include experts in logistics as well as water, sanitation and hygiene. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, International Medical Corps assisted with sandbagging reinforcements and water pumping in Orašje. The team visited the Zenica wider area, focusing assessments on the city of Maglaj and found the Maglaj Health House and nearly all equipment in the facility severely damaged. In Doboj, the team visited Doboj Health House, which sustained flood damage to the structure as well as to equipment and five ambulances.
In Serbia, International Medical Corps’ team visited Valjevomunicipality along the River Kolubara and Obrenovac, the worst hit municipality. Water supply systems were damaged, homes destroyed and crops completely lost. Although waters have receded in the area, more expected rain could exacerbate soil and land conditions.
International Medical Corps is working with partners including local ministries, local authorities, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Development Program (and other UN agencies) and the Red Cross to provide a comprehensive response throughout the region.
International Medical Corps, which has offices in Split, Croatia, first deployed to the Balkans in 1993 in response to war and ethnic cleansing, establishing emergency medicine training, ambulance systems, mobile clinics and mental health programs. Likewise during the Kosovo conflict, the organization set up operations in Kosovo, as well as in neighboring Macedonia and Albania.
Since its inception 30 years ago, International Medical Corps' mission has been consistent: relieve the suffering of those impacted by war, natural disaster and disease, by delivering vital health care services that focus on training. This approach of helping people help themselves is critical to returning devastated populations to self-reliance. For more information visit: www.InternationalMedicalCorps.org. Also see us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.