20.05.2014 - It's been six days since the biggest natural disaster of the past 120 years began in Bosnia & Herzegovina. At least 24 people have lost their lives and a quarter of the population has no access to drinking water. Thousands have been evacuated from what are now uninhabitable areas.
Two boys sheltering at one collective emergency center in Doboj, Serbia. Photo: SOS Children´s Villages
The areas along the Sava river were among the worst hit. In those areas – spanning Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia - the floods have destroyed over 100,000 homes. Experts say the damage will take at least five years to repair.
SOS Children's Villages has joined the relief effort. Since Monday, the SOS Children's Village in Gracanica, in Bosnia & Herzegovina, has been accommodating families from flood-affected areas.
‘Worse than after the war’
Appealing to SOS Children's Villages for help, Mr. Nusret Helić, the mayor of Gracanica, called the damage "worse than after the war", in reference to the conflicts that ravaged the region in the 1990s.
Many settlements are either completely under water or have been destroyed in landslides. Mine fields left over from the conflicts have been rendered extremely dangerous again.
"The walls of mud and earth have carried some of the estimated 100,000 land mines left over from the region's war, along with their warning signs, to entirely new, often unknown, locations,” Bosnian Foreign Minister Zlatko Lagumdzija told Al Jazeera Balkans on Tuesday. “Landslides and land mines have devastated very fertile land."
Your help is needed
The floods in Bosnia & Herzegovina are receding, leaving behind piles of mud, destroyed arable land and dead livestock. As the weather gets warmer, the population now faces the danger of infectious outbreaks. A first case of enterocolitis (infectious intestinal disease) has been reported in Zenica.
The flood dangers increase further to the east, in Serbia, where the Danube is expected to rise to maximum levels in the next few days.
SOS Children´s Villages is providing relief
SOS Children's Villages has launched emergency programmes in Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia. The first wave consists of urgently needed in-kind help such as bottled water, canned food, diapers, disinfectants, cleaning supplies, rubber boots, gloves, pumps and more.
Please donate online and help us provide needed emergency supplies and care to children and families in the Balkans.