CARE team reports inspiring solidarity amongst the population, but access to affected communities remains a challenge.
Sarajevo/Belgrade, May 30, 2014. Two weeks after severe rainfalls led to devastating floods in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and parts of Croatia, CARE International pays tribute to the enormous solidarity and support shown by families, neighbours and engaged citizens in the region. At the same time, the international aid agency is worried about communities still cut off from support. “The needs are still enormous”, reports Sumka Bucan, CARE’s Regional Director for the Balkans. “The biggest challenge is to catch up with the specific needs in each community and to make sure that people are getting the assistance as quickly as possible.”
Families found accommodation in sports halls or with relatives outside of the flooded areas. In those emergency shelters in Serbia, CARE has already distributed baby food to evacuated families. In Bosnia, CARE teams have started to distribute water pumps in affected villages. The next distributions will include disinfection material such as garbage bags, gloves and masks as well as food packages and hygiene products.
While food and hygiene items were the biggest needs during the first few days, emergency teams are now focusing on cleaning and disinfecting the flooded areas. “Once the cleaning is completed, we will need to look into providing tools and seeds to replant what has been damaged in the floods”, reports Bucan.
At this stage, the most pressing needs are cleaning utensils such as chlorine and detergents for disinfection. “Also, some towns are still under water while also being cut from the power supply and urgently need power generators“, specifies CARE’s Sumka Bucan. The possible spread of diseases is a big concern because the floods are carrying animal carcasses to the surface. Some villages are not accessible for aid agencies because of the disease alert. “But families there are in dire need of assistance.”
Meanwhile, the community support shown both in Bosnia and Serbia is encouraging, reports CARE staffer Vesna Jovanović in Belgrade, Serbia: „People are helping each other to clean their homes, work places and schools. It is inspiring to see the level of solidarity. Some donate furniture and home appliances; others just lend a hand where it is most needed. We hope that the outside world acknowledges this spirit and continues to provide much-needed support.”
According to the European Commission’s Office for Humanitarian Aid (ECHO), more than 34,000 people had to leave their homes in Serbia, while 40,000 houses in Bosnia and Herzegovina were evacuated. 60 people have been reported dead.
CARE in the Balkans: CARE International has been working in the Balkans since 1993. After providing humanitarian aid for victims of war and refugees, CARE now seeks to help build sustainable peace and development in the region. Programs support economic activities on regional levels, peace and reconciliation efforts, integration of minorities and the creation of opportunities for young people. CARE places special focus on working alongside poor girls and women because, equipped with the proper resources, they have the power to help lift whole families and entire communities out of poverty. Find out more at www.care-international.org.