June 2, 2014

CWS International Appeal Update: Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina Flooding

APPEAL CODE: #6639
APPEAL GOAL: $613,000

Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina have been affected by the cyclone Tamara on May 13. Later on came extremely heavy rain, strong wind and low temperatures. Waters continue to rise rapidly. Severe damages have occured, peole died and many had to be evacuated. ACT members focus on immediate life-saving actions. Photo: ACT/CWS/Philanthropy Charitable Foundation of the Serbian Orthodox Church/Ivan Dobricic

Situation

As noted in the May 23 appeal, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina have been affected by a devastating cyclone, which has resulted in record flooding from heavy rains.

In the latest update on the regional effects of the disaster, it is estimated that more than 1 million people in both countries have been directly or indirectly affected. Serbia's Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said on Thursday the floods in Serbia had claimed 51 lives. Four people are still missing.

The death toll in Bosnia has risen to 25. Towns of Obrenovac in Serbia and Doboj in Bosnia and Herzegovina account for most victims. Around 2,600 people remain in 26 collective centers in Bosnia and Herzegovina. (It is estimated that around 80,000 remain displaced and hosted by relatives and friends).

Throughout Serbia, an estimated 32,000 people remain displaced and hosted by one of the 140 collective centers across the country or by relatives and friends. Over 4,000 people, mainly from the town of Obrenovac, remain in 43 collective centers in Belgrade.

Massive problems remain in the region, with some estimating that damage from the floods will reach the billions, and in Bosnia could exceed the damage from that country’s 1992-95 civil war.

Among the problems, according to the ACT Alliance:

  • Large amounts of arable land under water and large numbers of livestock killed.
  • Landslides triggered by floods continue to pose a threat, mainly in western Serbia and Bosnia. Increased number of land and mudslides are reported in multiple locations, with more rainfall and thunderstorms expected and threats of more landslides.
  • Infrastructure is being reestablished in multiple locations, but access to potable water is still an issue, including in remote mountain villages that have had wells, roads and bridges damaged or destroyed by flash flooding.
  • Electricity being brought back on line in most locations. Some isolated settlements remain, however, without electricity and water.
  • Road access has improved in and around some major population centers, but damaged roads and bridges remain a problem in more rural and remote areas.
  • The most pressing concerns include provision of clean water, health and sanitation.

CWS Response

Members of the ACT Alliance, which includes CWS, continue ongoing assessments. CWS is working in coalition with other ACT members, which include Philanthropy, the humanitarian arm of the Serbian Orthodox Church; International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), and Hungarian InterChurch Aid (HIA). All have many years of experience working in the Balkans region.

CWS is operational in two districts in central Serbia and the four Cantons in Bosnia and Herzegovina, providing food, personal health and hygiene supplies; disinfection equipment, tools and packs, and agricultural assessment and relief.

The ACT response will focus on food assistance, distribution of food packages and delivery of hygiene and cleaning supplies.

To date, CWS response has included small emergency grants to local partners in Serbia (Centre for Youth Integration in Belgrade for work in informal Roma settlements and to the Red Cross Smederevo for immediate aid in food, clothing and hygiene kits), and support for a local partner in Bosnia and Herzegovina for doing assessments in the field in the flood-affected communities.

For more information, see the ACT Alliance Preliminary Appeal.

How to Help

Contributions to support CWS emergency response efforts may be made online, sent to your denomination/communion or to Church World Service, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515.

For further information about disasters to which Church World Service is responding, call 800-297-1516.

CWS Development and Humanitarian Assistance Program/CWS New York office: 212-870-3151.