Providing Emergency Relief in the Balkans
May 23, 2014 •
Providing Emergency Relief in the Balkans

Thanks to generous donors like you, planned projects are now funded. Gifts towards our International Disaster Relief work will be used where most needed in a disaster or emergency situation. We are currently supporting the Ebola outbreak in Liberia, displaced families fleeing conflict in northern Iraq and refugees facing crisis in South Sudan.

Flood waters have receded in Bosnia and reconstruction of homes is now underway. Home renovation is an extremely important part of disaster relief as it will allow families to return to their abandoned homes. Rebuilding homes so that families can return is an essential step towards re-establishing their lives. Once back in their homes, families will be able to restart their livelihoods and experience long-term recovery.

Following the May 2014 flooding in the Balkan region, Samaritan’s Purse Disaster Assistance Relief Team (DART) members worked alongside key Serbian church leaders and Christian organisations to help flood victims. Together, teams were mobilised to ensure food, water, hygiene and sanitary items, and other essential goods reached those in critical need of aid and relief.

Within days of flooding, Samaritan’s Purse mobilised local churches to help flood victims in tangible ways, providing immediate help for 1,020 families in desperate need.

Together, we ministered to flood victims by providing the following:

  • Essential food supplies, such as flour, oil, rice, and canned goods
  • Hygiene products, including toilet paper, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo and shower gel
  • Home cleaning kits containing mops, brooms, rubber gloves, bin bags and hand towels
  • Cleaning and sanitation supplies, mildew disinfectants and laundry detergent
  • Construction materials like cement, gravel, tiles, laminate flooring and wooden doors
  • Replacement home goods, such as beds, for displaced families
  • 580 bales of hay to keep livestock alive and producing milk
  • Baby and infant clothing and nappies
  • Creative supplies that allowed volunteers to provide art activities for children and babies living in displacement centres
  • Cleaned out homes in Paracin, Serbia – a widowed woman living alone was truly touched by the help
  • Distributed food provisions to pastors to help local congregations meet the needs of the displaced in their community

Samaritan’s Purse responded to tragedy in the Balkans as torrential flooding forced more than 30,000 Serbians and 100,000 Bosnians to evacuate their destroyed homes:

100,000 people in Bosnia and 30,000 people Serbia have fled their homes as the Balkan region suffers from the worst flooding for 120 years. Waters are now beginning to recede, but officials report that danger remains and they have called for international help, with Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic requesting food, clothing and bottled water.

Samaritan’s Purse has been active in Bosnia and Serbia for many years through Operation Christmas Child and The Greatest Journey – in 2013, we sent over 50,000 shoeboxes to bless children in each country. 

Outside the town of Prejidor, Bosnia there is small community nicknamed “Rupa” or “the hole” – every home in the former quarry was flooded. Many of the former refugee families here reported barely escaping with their lives the day the floodwaters came.

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Stojan & Milka stand outside their home as mosquitoes swarm around them, their numbers increased due to the standing water everywhere in the area.

“I was baking a pie,” she said, describing the day of the flood, only one short week ago. “I was putting one in the oven and making the other, when all of a sudden there was water around my feet.” Forced to flee in a matter of minutes, they were unable to save anything from their home.

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“The water tore the house apart”, she said, gesturing back towards her modest home. This hardworking family has removed all the destroyed contents of their home and a truck has taken everything, all the flood-damaged pieces of their life away.

“All we have left are those two windows” she said, pointing. “The doors are gone as well.” Adding to their loss, their dog drowned in the flood. “He didn’t have time to run, it was that fast,” she said sadly.

The water was right up to the roof of the home they had built for their family of 5, which includes a very young baby. “Had we known there would be flooding, we wouldn’t have rushed to build our home.” They are staying elsewhere now but come here to clean every day.

“The way I ran from my first house as a refugee, ran away without anything … I’m used to anything now, after this flood as well.” All they have is the clothes they were wearing when they fled.

Their community of refugees, who once arrived there with nothing, are now left with very little and what they do have is covered in dirt and grime.

Stoja, a grandmother in the community, was in total shock when the flood waters reached her home where she was with her 2-year-old granddaughter Nevena. She took her granddaughter and climbed in the back of the Jeep to flee while the water was already at knee height. The water went on to rise as high as the windows, 2-3 metres up in most places.

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A diabetic with a heart condition, Stoja was deeply affected by the chaos of fleeing her home in the midst of the flood. She tells us how an ambulance arrived just in time to save her life after she fled. The doctors still visit every three days due to her ongoing health issues. She refuses to go to the hospital, so that she can be here to clean up. Although most people here went to stay with friends and family elsewhere while they waited for flood waters to recede, almost everyone in the community has now begun to clean up their homes.

“The worst moment was when I walked in after the flood and saw everything had been destroyed,” she said.

Most of the people here are refugees from around Sarajevo. “This is the second time we have lost everything and are starting from zero,” she said.

“The house is still standing, and God will provide so it’s filled up again.”

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Cleaning kits were put together to equip these families with supplies, enabling them to sanitise their water damaged homes and make them healthy and safe to live in.

Please pray:

  • For peace and comfort for people in Serbia, Bosnia, and Croatia who are affected by the flooding
  • For those who have lost loved ones, homes, and possessions in the floods
  • That Samaritan’s Purse and other agencies will be able to reach out with the love of Christ to those in need

 

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