di Milana Milovac
Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia have experienced floods of Biblical proportions since last week, the worst that the region has seen in its modern history. These three countries were hit by cataclysmic floods that took many lives and a large number of people left homeless. It is estimated that several months of rain fell in just few days.
Thousands of families have already been evacuated from their homes. Sport centers and hotels have become public shelters. The death toll stands at around 50 as water courses through the region, tearing apart buildings and lives in the process. The most affected city of Serbia is Obrenovac, the town which is situated 30km southwest of Belgrade. Tsunami- like water level in Obrenovac reached about 6 meters and just roof of the houses were visible. Now, what is left of Obrenovac can be called a city of ghosts.
The situation is the same in Bosnia-Herzegovina where the city of Doboj suffered the most. An additional concern of the flooding is the displacement of landmines, a legacy of the 1992–95 Bosnian war. Heavy landslides have moved minefields in Bosnia, where around a third of the country is underwater, and it’s estimated that near to 120,000 landmines remain. Around 600 Bosnians have been killed by mines since 95 and the indiscriminate weapons remain an extreme threat to people living in the region and it can be also problem for Serbia because the river Sava can bring a lot of those mines on the Serbian territory.
The floods hit east of Croatia on Monday. 15,000 people have been evacuated, and unfortunately there have been two confirmed deaths
In Serbia, thousands of volunteers have joined the police and army in building barriers which have prevented the river Sava from overflowing in the town of Sabac. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, although the politicians still remained in their respective areas, rescue troops and rafting teams crossed the real and imagined borderlines, going from Bihac to Doboj, and from Foca to Zenica, in order to help their fellow citizens, regardless of their ethnicity or political party affiliation.
Soldiers in both countries have been working around the clock for days to help with the evacuation, food, water supplies and shelter. Students and youth organisations in Bosnia have organised volunteers to assist with the clean-up. On May 18, 500 students went from Sarajevo to help with recovery of Maglaj, Zavidovici and Olovo. Buses, trucks and essential aid have been provided by local transport. The disaster has caused terrible floods, and our neighbourhoods, villages and towns have been completely submerged. Livelihoods and homes have been completely destroyed. As another wave of floods is expected , we take refuge in the humanity, empathy and solidarity we have witnessed so far at home and abroad. It will take years, and billions in financial aid, for Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia to recover from the disaster. Funds will be needed for medical treatment, clean-up and sanitation of the affected areas and re-building of both houses and lives.
There are various ways to help and get involved, either by actively assisting those in need, if you are in the area, or through donations. Many reputable organisations have opened accounts for this purpose, including the Red Cross Bosnia, Red Cross Croatia, Red Cross Serbia, Novak Djokovic Foundation, Government of Serbia, and Association Pomozi, just to mention a few. Please visit their websites and contribute what you can, or at least – help spread the word.
These people lost everything they had. Many of them lost their families. They have just bare lives and our help. So please help in the way you are able. There are some drop offs in Italy where you can bring food, hygienic supplies etc. You can find it on the facebook page.
There are also Red Cross and Pay Pall accounts for financial donations:
Pay Pall Bosnia: Paypal1@pomozi.ba
Pay Pall Serbia: firstname.lastname@example.org