Snow has come to the Balkans. It is cold and humid. The Federation's regional logistics centre in Budapest is almost as busy as a shopping centre before Christmas. Telephones are ringing, faxes and e-mails are sent all over the world. Thousands of pairs of winter boots, jackets and underwear as well as tonnes and tonnes of food have been ordered, and will soon be transported to warehouses in the region. These people are working for the refugees and other vulnerable people in the Balkans - in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, in Bosnia Herzegovina, Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The work is multiple - the dozens of trucks which will transport these goods must be registered, and customs papers must be prepared for the shipments. Each order is preceded by tender offers, samples must be checked and sometimes tested before the order is sent out. The numbers are impressive, a measure of the desperate needs of people facing winter with few possessions and no food stocks. Since early autumn, when the winter programme started, Bosnia Herzegovina has received 50,000 blankets, 276,000 food parcels and 60,000 hygienic parcels. In the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia the Red Cross has just finished the distribution of 177,000 hygiene parcels donated by ECHO. Still to be delivered to the destitute in Yugoslavia are one million litres of sunflower oil, one million tonnes of beans, one million tonnes of sugar, 1,080 tonnes of milk powder, 166 tonnes of yeast, 1,188 tonnes of canned food, 142,500 hygiene parcels and 55,500 sets of thermal underwear. The Federation's Macedonian delegation will receive 15,000 pairs of boots and 15,000 winter jackets. Some 7,000 pairs of boots, 7,000 sets of winter underwear and 7,000 pairs of socks have just been delivered to the Albanian delegation. The ultimate purpose of this huge logistical effort is to help hundreds of thousands of people who have lost their homes and livelihoods be better prepared to face the cold Balkan winter.
WEEKLY NEWS IS PUBLISHED BY THE INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF RED CROSS AND RED CRESCENT SOCIETIES
17 Chemin des Crêts, Geneva
Tel: (41 22) 730 4222
Fax: (41 22) 733 0395