The worst floods in the republics of Serbia, Bosnia Herzegovina and Croatia in over a hundred years have already caused more than forty deaths. Authorities fear that the death toll rises as waters recede and make the counting of damages. The economic damages will also be important: the losses amount to 1,000 million euros only in Serbia, a country that the floods have left without 40% of its power generation capacity.
The most affected areas are Obrenovac (Serbian town about 30 kilometers southwest of Belgrade, where on Sunday the bodies of 12 people were found) as well as Maglaj and Doboj (both in Bosnia), where thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes . In neighboring Bosnia–Herzegovina, nearly a third of its inhabitants have been affected. “The situation is catastrophic,” said Serbian Prime Minister Aleksander Vucic, who canceled a planned trip to Austria.
The rains stopped over Sunday in the most affected areas (central and western Serbia and northeast Bosnia), but continue growing the Sava river in Belgrade where the soldiers are built a 12 kilometres wall of sandbags to protect the city. Thousands of soldiers and volunteers worked through the night on Saturday to build a 5 kilometres wall of sandbags to protect the Kostolac power plant, also the workers at the plant joined the effort, digging up a road in a bid to divert waters that threatened to flood nearby coal mines. The Kostolac plant supplies 20 percent of Serbia’s electricity needs.
Otherwise, these floods could dig up thousands of landmines still remain especially in Bosnia and that were placed during the Bosnian War (1992-1995). Approximately one million people live in the affected region, where floods could dig up part of the 120,000 explosive devices that have yet to be detonated in Bosnian territory, officials said. There are also over 9,400 minefields carefully marked with signs and fences that could be affected by the rains.
The Mine Action Centre of Bosnia has warned of this risk to the residents of the affected areas. “As a result of this natural disaster, mine may have been displaced from the danger zones identified. Every possible measure to encourage residents should be taken,” said the organization.
But the disaster has brought unexpected effect has aroused a feeling of unprecedented solidarity between communities that twenty years ago were declared enemies. Regardless of ethnicity or religion, the least affected neighbors have turned to help those who have lost everything. The constant references between affected the war that devastated the Balkans in the nineties give an idea of the magnitude of the disaster.
In the Bosnian city of Maglaj, residents have already returned to see if there is still something to save: “After the war I found my furniture, and I noticed I could use again, my couch and my cupboard. But now, now I have no cupboard, you can go and check it, we have nothing“, Hatidza Muhic, one of the affected lamented.
In Tuzla, another Bosnian town, predominantly Serbian, a similar image and despair are palpable. “In two days has destroyed everything we got when we returned to rebuild after the war,” said Nevenka Djuric, who has lost his home after a landslide caused by rains.
Gradually, the neighbors try to recover the few belongings that water and mud did not take. But among such loss, at least the stock has gained something: what could be the beginning of improvement in the relationship between opposing communities for many years. Croats, Serbs and Muslims have shown his human side facing the worst floods in the Balkans in the last century.
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.
Also, international organism as UN, EULEX, World Bank and countries as Netherlands, Russia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Hungary… but even in our city, Arad. A group of EVS volunteers has taken contact with the serbian community in the city and we are gonna start a campaign to collect staple goods (mineral water, higienic goods, diapers, non-perishable food…) and send to the affected areas. Tomorrow we’ll start an informative campaign in schools, high schools, universities, supermarkets to try the most of people have the possibility of helping. And tomorrow, we try to raise awareness the people whose come to our barter market “Let’s Swap” about the neccesity to help in these critical moments.