ADRA Rebuilding Lives Shattered by Balkan Floods
After an outpouring of international assistance, the tedious task of cleaning up mud and debris starts in Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia.
ADRA, the Adventist relief agency, has distributed more than 100 tons of food, water and clothing to thousands of people affected by record flooding in Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia and is now starting the difficult task of cleaning up mud and debris.
Igor Mitrović, director of ADRA-Serbia, the agency’s local branch, said a groundswell of worldwide support has led to an enormous amount of humanitarian aid being distributed to the hundreds of thousands of people displaced by mid-May rain and floods, the worst since records began 120 years ago.
But he fretted that the international community would forget once the tedious work of rebuilding got under way in the devastated parts of the three Balkan countries.
“To be honest, we are in the middle of a humanitarian hysteria at the moment. Everyone wants to help each other — which is good!” he said.
“However, this will abate and then the real needs of those affected will begin to emerge — such as psychological help, support for rebuilding people’s houses and livelihoods and, most importantly, hope for their future,” he said.
He and other ADRA leaders pledged to stay for the long run.
“We will partner with government and civil organizations to ensure long-term support, especially to those in the marginalized parts of Serbia,” he said.
Putting his words into action, ADRA-Serbia is working with the Serbian Red Cross and the leaders and members of the local emergency coordination board to clear up the mud and debris from roads and houses that have been flooded. Volunteers also are cleaning and disinfecting and drying flooded houses, distributing basic non-food items for households, and providing money to people who lost their incomes because of the destruction of agricultural land and other employment, it said.
ADRA-Serbia implemented an early response relief project within a week of Serbia declaring a state of emergency. In cooperation with the Serbian Red Cross, more than 640 food relief packages were distributed to 2,400 people from the stricken towns of Obrenovac, Paraćin, Šabac and Ub, it said.
In Croatia, the local branch of ADRA was among the first to send humanitarian aid after heavy rain and flooding devastated the eastern European countries in mid-May, said its director, Ileana Radojević.
A total of 107 tons of water, food, and clothes were distributed: 30 tons to Serbia, 37 tons to Bosnia and 40 tons to eastern Croatia.
The next project is to help people clean up their communities and return theirs lives to normal, Radojević said.
ADRA-Bosnia & Herzegovina, working with 40 volunteers, distributed more than 4,000 parcels with food, water and hygiene materials.
“Our focus is mainly on the city of Doboj, and we have received 250 drying machines that will dry houses for poor people as well as some important public institutions,” said Božidar Mihajlović, director for the local ADRA office.
ADRA also will send 100 volunteers from Sarajevo and Banjaluka to help clean up Doboj.
“We are inviting all experts to make plans to not just rebuild the city but also make a vision for a better and more beautiful Doboj,” Mihajlović said. “This has been a catastrophe, but it is also an opportunity for a new future.”
ADRA is collecting donations and seeking volunteers to rebuild damaged churches and homes and to help people in need. For information, contact Steve Cooper, ADRA/TED director, by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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