The American Red Cross is contributing a total of $400,000 to support flood relief efforts in the Balkans, including shelter supplies in Bosnia and Herzegovina and distribution of food, relief items and water and sanitation activities in Serbia.
In May, heavy rainfall dumped three months’ worth of rain in just three days- affecting Serbia, Bosnia, and Croatia. During the worst of the emergency situation more than 40 percent of Bosnia and Herzegovina was under water.
The water is slowly receding but relief efforts are hampered by landslides, damaged infrastructure, broken telecommunications, blocked roads, blackouts and general access difficulties. In addition, the movement of landmines during the flooding is causing dangers for those affected.
As of May 27, as many as 3.1 million are affected by the floods and landslides and 60 have lost their lives throughout the Balkans. Nearly 100,000 people have been evacuated.
“It is like during the war,” said Anatelka Jerremovic, who has been staying at a Red Cross shelter Brcko, Bosnia near the Croatian border, since she and her family were first evacuated on May 17th. When the Tinja and then the Sava rivers came in to the family home, they were preparing for a big family birthday. “I will never forget that day," she said.
Humanitarian needs in the Balkans include provision of emergency shelter, food, relief items, safe drinking water, and hygiene items, emotional support, as well as reconnecting family members. Thousands of Red Cross volunteers, including Milan Mirkovic, are providing these services throughout the region.
Mirkovic is a medical doctor, a member of the governing board of the Red Cross in Serbia and a member of Youth Commision of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. He says that the amount of rain causing the worst floods in more than a century surprised everybody.
“It was terrible when people first came in,” Mirkovic said. “Some were wet and dirty, many children had been separated from their parents during evacuation. Luckily a lot of volunteers were able to organize games for the children to make them laugh, and through our restoring family links program, we have been able to reunite families quite quickly.”