Disaster Alert: Red Cross Assists with Relief Efforts in the Balkans

Although the water has receded in some areas, the worst floods in more than a century continue to create havoc in large parts of both Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

While thousands are still waiting to be rescued from their homes, tens of thousands have been evacuated and are staying with families or in shelter. In Serbia an estimated 300,000 are without safe water or electricity. In Bosnia and Herzegovina the figure is 50,000. Many are living in unsafe and insanitary conditions created by the floods.

Almost one third of Bosnia is affected by floods with houses, roads and railway lines being submerged in the north eastern part of the country. A vast number of landslides have worsened the situation and relief efforts, and there are reports that landmines buried during the conflict have shifted with the landslides, making the situation more dangerous for residents and rescuers.

In Serbia, the worst affected area is around the town of Obrenovac, south west of Belgrade, where around 10,000 people are still stranded. While water levels in some rivers are receding, the river Sava and two other rivers are still rising, forecast to reach their peak during Sunday night or later, so the danger is far from over.

The Red Cross societies of both countries have been actively engaged in rescue and relief activities, helping set up centers for those evacuated.

The Red Cross of Serbia has specially trained teams – as well as thousands of staff and volunteers – assisting with continued evacuations and providing relief items.

The Red Cross Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina have mobilized teams in the affected areas, who are assisting authorities with evacuations as well as providing blankets, mattresses, drinking water, food and hygiene kits, rubber boots and water purifiers to more than 10,000 people. These figures are expected to rise.

In Brcko, one of the worst affected areas, Red Cross volunteers are helping to move sandbags along the River Sava to prevent it from flooding dozens of villages which are still in danger.

Many volunteers and their families in both countries are themselves affected by the floods.

The American Red Cross is closely monitoring the situation but has not been asked for additional assistance at this time.  

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