Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina Floods: Humanitarian Situation Report - 29 May 2014

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1. Critical Issues for Children

Bosnia and Herzegovina is faced with the worst floods due to the heaviest rains seen in the region for more than a century.

Northern, eastern and central parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) have received heavy rainfall, with some areas receiving more than 250 liters of rain per square meter which is the highest ever recorded. This caused extreme water levels of rivers Bosna, Sava, Vrbas and their tributaries. Latest news reports estimate that this has caused more than 2,000 landslides across the country.

According to the official reports over 1 million people have been affected directly or indirectly by the floods requiring evacuation of 40,000 people1. So far, 32 deaths have been reported. About 250,000 of children are affected, out of which 70,000 children under the age of 5. There are about 40,000 persons displaced within the country. 2192 persons are placed in 59 collective centres (34 in Federation of BiH (FBiH), 24 in Republika Srpska (RS), 1 in Brcko District (BD). More than 800 Roma families have been affected by floods, and they were identified as one of the most vulnerable groups even before the floods.

In most areas, the water levels went down and most rivers have receded to their riverbeds. In Posavina Canton the state of emergency continues, but the situation is slowly normalizing and water levels are going down. The most critical situation is in Vidovica, Kopanica, Lepnica and Jenjic, which are still flooded, although the water level is slowly going down. The most affected areas in the FBiH are: Sarajevo Canton (most affected municipalities: Novi Grad, Ilidža, Vogošća), Zenica-Doboj Canton (most affected municipalities: Maglaj, Doboj Jug, Zavidovići i Olovo), Tuzlanski canton (in total 13 municipalities of which the most affected are: Srebrenik, Tuzla, Lukavac, Gračanica i Doboj Istok), Central Bosnia Canton (Travnik and Vitez surrounding areas), Posavina Canton (most affected municipalities: Orašje, Domaljevac, Odžak).

Over 40 municipalities have been directly affected and 14 declared the State of Emergency (no longer the state of the emergency on the entity levels). The most affected municipalities in the RS are Banja Luka, Kotor Varoš, Laktaši, Ribnik, Kostajnica, Prijedor, Jezero, Novi Grad; Bijeljina, Bratunac, Vlasenica, Zvornik, Lopare, Milići, Osmaci, Ugljevik, Srebrenica, Šekovići; Doboj, Modriča, Šamac, Brod, Donji Žabar, Vukosavlje, Petrovo. More municipalities have been affected but were not covered by the report of the MoS2. A few settlements are still out of reach in the RS in the areas surrounding Bijeljina, Samac, Donji Zabar as well in Brcko District and FBiH. Most of residents have been evacuated, with the exception of few people who refused but are regularly visited by the Civil Protection.

Infrastructure is being re-established in multiple locations, but access to potable water is still an issue. Electricity is being brought back on line in most locations. Some isolated settlements remain, however, without electricity and water. Main roads are increasingly functional. However, side roads and over 20 bridges have been destroyed and damaged. Roads are still closed around Bijeljina and Brcko, while circulation is limited to one way or passenger vehicles only on several other highways and regional roads.

The cleaning process is progressing, most solid waste has been cleaned, with the exception of Maglaj where large debris remain, thereby requiring heavy machinery for removal. A large number of homes remain uninhabited/vacated (in Maglaj 1600 houses and apartments remain empty). Temporary collective centres in Maglaj are almost empty, as most of displaced are hosted by families.

About 800km2 of mine-suspected areas were impacted by floods. 70% of flood-affected areas are suspected to contain mines and UXOs representing a huge concern in particular for children. Doboj, Maglaj, Olovo, Una-Sana Canton and Posavina regions at the basin of Bosna, Krivaja and Usora rivers have been identified as mine and UXOs suspected areas.

Agricultural lands (approximately 3,000 hectares) in all the affected areas of northern, eastern and central parts of the country are flooded with green houses, supplies and crops largely destroyed and livestock endangered representing a challenge for future food security. More than 100,000 residential buildings are destroyed or are under threat. Dozens of industrial buildings in affected areas have been severely damaged by the floods. According to official data, more than 230 public institutions such as schools and health centers have been affected.

In most affected areas, schools (preschools, primary and secondary) are closed and will not reopen until September. The data is still being gathered on the exact number of schools affected but initial records indicate that at least 65 primary schools have been damaged. Rural schools seem to be the most affected.

In most affected areas, health centres have been affected by the floods. Field observations point to a potential shortages in supplies and medicines but the main concern remains unsafe water. The first floor of the health center in Maglaj, a severely affected area, for example, was completely destroyed and rooms are filled with mud. Ambulances were ruined along with laboratory equipment.

Some municipalities have undertaken much better preventive measures than the others and were able to save all the medicine and medical machinery from the floods. Others have lost most of it and do not have even the basic medicine to provide to the people in need. Mobile health teams are concentrating their work on the 'prevention of the epidemics' and there are some positive practices in this field - such as the regional cooperation that is crossing the entity line between Tuzla and Bjeljina for example, where epidemiologists from Tuzla are also reaching the most vulnerable in Bjeljina and working with the local authorities there on the prevention activities. These mobile health teams are currently 'replacing' the health centers in the most affected areas, where the actual health centers were literally wiped out.

Preliminary data shows that more than 800 Roma families have been affected by floods, and all the collective centres visited have a Roma population. According to Roma NGOs, Roma families are reporting discrimination by the municipal authorities, since many of them are told to contact their local NGOs and are not being able to access the aid that is provided to the non-Roma families. In Tuzla, for example, they were put in a collective centre, but when non-Roma families started coming, they were moved two times in order to accommodate the non-Roma and at the end some of them decided to return to their homes, although they are still unsafe for living. In affected areas, most Centres for Social Welfare (CSW) have been affected and they urgently need IT equipment to be able to perform their work.

Social work are trying to support venerable families. There are some positive practices of outreach field work to approach the most affected families. According to initial data gathered in particular in the RS, the “new poor” are elderlies, families with children with disabilities, families with one or no employed member and families that were depending on agricultural work.

Five sessions of the International Community Coordination Meeting have been hosted by UN Regional Coordinator. Sessions will continue every other day until further notice. A joint UN-EU-World Bank recovery needs assessment will be deployed on May 31. The assessment teams will consist of experts from different UN agencies and other international organizations, among which: Swiss Cooperation, EU ECHO, WFP, Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance, EUFOR, UNICEF, UNHCR and IOM, UN Women, OHCHR, World Vision, UK / DFID, ICRC, UNEP, UNDP, etc.