Floods affect over 1 million in Balkans, destruction to cost billions of euros – ‘This country has not experienced such a natural cataclysm ever in its history’Posted by Jim at Wednesday, May 21, 2014
By Aida Cerkez and Jovana Gec
21 May 2014
SARAJEVO, BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA (Associated Press) – Floodwaters receded Wednesday in Bosnia and Serbia, just enough to reveal the next shock: recovery from the historic flood will probably cost billions of euros that neither of the countries has.
Bosnian Foreign Minister Zlatko Lagumdzija said the flood affected 23,000 square kilometres, or 40 per cent of the country — an area bigger in size than the nearby country of Slovenia.
“It’s an enormous tragedy,” said Kristalina Georgieva of the European Commission’s International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response.
She added that as the flooding struck, the EU responded immediately with rescue workers, helicopters, boats, tents, and other forms of aid from 16 member countries and that more is to come for both Serbia and Bosnia.
“Right now, we are at the emergency assistance phase,” she said, meaning the focus is on saving lives and preventing diseases. In the next phase, the European Union and local experts will be assessing the damage, and in the third they will work on the recovery and prevention of such tragedies.
While there’s been no official figure on damages in Bosnia, some preliminary estimates are pointing to a sum of nearly 1.3 billion euros ($1.9 billion).
Both countries have already begun talks with the EU for getting international help with reconstruction efforts. Separately, Bosnia’s Serb region is talking with Russia.
The flooding wrecked the main agriculture industry in Bosnia’s northern flatlands. In addition to ruining the region’s economic backbone, the deluge has wiped out infrastructure, buildings and family homes. One quarter of the country’s population of 4 million has been affected by the six days of floods and 2,100 landslides.
Bosnia has one of the lowest gross domestic products in Europe and an unemployment rate of up to 44 per cent. Almost no one has property insurance in the country, meaning many residents lost virtually everything.
On Wednesday, a mine exploded near the northern village of Cerik where the water had moved one of the more than 9,000 minefields left from the war. Nobody was hurt.
“This country has not experienced such a natural cataclysm ever in its history,” Lagumdzija, the foreign minister, said. [more]
21 May 2014 (Al Jazeera) – Floods and landslides caused by heavy rains last week have killed 40 and left half a million displaced [EPA]
The cost of the recovery operation following devastating floods in the Balkans may amount to billions of dollars.
Both Bosnia and Serbia said they will need international help, as EU and NATO officials visited affected areas on Wednesday to estimate damage.
Officials in Bosnia said they fear the damage caused by heavy rains and landslides would exceed that caused by the entire Balkan conflict fought between Bosniaks, Serbs, and Croats between 1992 and 1995.
As waters receded, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said that the damage in his country exceeded 0.64 percent of GDP, meaning that Serbia can apply for EU solidarity funds, the AP news agency reported.
The heavy rainfall, which began last week, was the highest ever recorded in the Balkans. Excess water led to rivers breaking their banks and landslides that left 49 people dead and half a million people displaced. [more]
By Daria Sito-Sucic and Marko Djurica
19 May 2014
MAGLAJ, Bosnia / KRUPANJ, Serbia (Reuters) – Bosnia said on Monday that more than a quarter of its 4 million people had been affected by the worst floods to hit the Balkans in living memory, comparing the "terrifying" destruction to that of the country's 1992-95 war.
The extent of the devastation became apparent in Serbia too, as waters receded in some of the worst-hit areas to reveal homes toppled or submerged in mud, trees felled and villages strewn with the rotting corpses of livestock.
The regional death toll reached more than 40, after the heaviest rainfall since records began 120 years ago caused rivers to burst their banks and triggered hundreds of landslides.
"The consequences … are terrifying," Bosnian Foreign Minister Zlatko Lagumdzija told a news conference. "The physical destruction is not less than the destruction caused by the war."
Lagumdzija said more than 100,000 houses and other buildings in Bosnia were no longer fit to use and that over a million people had been cut off from clean water supplies.
"During the war, many people lost everything," he said. "Today, again they have nothing."