WINNIPEG, Man. — When three months of rain fell in only three days and caused severe flooding, Serbia as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina declared states of emergency. More than 40 people have died, hundreds are injured and hundreds of thousands more were forced to evacuate. With the displacement and lack of access to water and electricity, more than three million people have been affected.
“This is all very stressful and people are extremely frustrated since the water is still decreasing very slowly,” says Davor Majstorović, coordinator of the Trauma Centre at Bread of St. Anthony, an MCC partner. “Water surrounding houses is also very dirty and poses a direct threat to health.”
The United Nations has identified water, sanitation and hygiene items as high priorities, as well as food for children under five in displaced families.
Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is working with partners in both countries on an emergency response.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina MCC is providing funds for a one-time distribution of food and water purification supplies to 5,000 people affected by flooding in Sarajevo. In northeastern Bosnia, 400 children under three will receive baby food, baby bottles and clean water. MCC is also sending containers of blankets, dried soup mix, hygiene kits, relief kits, infant care kits and school kits. The distributions will be carried out by MCC partners Merhamet and Bread of St. Anthony.
And in Serbia, MCC partner Bread of Life Belgrade is providing 100 displaced families with emergency food packages as well as 100 baby kits with food and diapers to children under three.
In addition to food and water concerns, landslides in Bosnia and Herzegovina have dislodged landmines from the civil war in the 90s. Furthermore, many warning signs around the minefields have been washed away.
The fact that “there have already been victims in this past week from landmine detonation is a sad reminder of the remains of war still in the region,” says Ruth Plett, one of MCC’s representatives for East Europe. “It is difficult to consider all those now affected, many of whom experienced war and trauma within their lifetimes, now experiencing trauma, again, due to this disaster.”
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bread of St. Anthony is providing psychological support for displaced people living in temporary community shelters.
MCC is accepting donations for its disaster response in the region, donate now.
There is also an urgent need for MCC relief and hygiene kits for use in this and other disaster responses; you can make a kit today.