Bosnia and Herzegovina

Flood relief in Bosnia Herzegovina

Malteser International rebuilds soup kitchen and health center

The village of Maglaj is one of eight communities in Bosnia Herzegovina that were hit especially hard during the floods of May 2014. There, Malteser International is working with local partners as well as the Malteser association in the diocese of Limburg, Germany, to rebuild a soup kitchen and a health center. Both were heavily damaged by the flood waters. The reconstruction of these two facilities will benefit 25,000 people.

The soup kitchen will be completely renovated and equipped so that it is back to working in full capacity. The kitchen’s cold storage house was also repaired promptly through the project. “Before the floods, the soup kitchen served warm meals to 600 needy people every day – both in its Maglaj location as well as with a meals on wheels program which served the neighboring villages,” says Juergen Briegel from Malteser Limburg, one of the project’s coordinators. “Today, they are cooking meals for more than 1,000 people, as many of the residents still cannot cook in their own damaged kitchens or have no money for groceries.”

The number of people in need of assistance rose dramatically in the region. “Many families whose income was dependent on agriculture are now living in poverty, as their fields and crops were destroyed through the floods,” Briegel says.

For the Maglaj health center, Malteser International will provide medical equipment, hospital beds, and furniture. “Since the diagnostics department was housed almost entirely in the basement and first floor, a large part of its equipment was destroyed,” adds Briegel. “The residents of Maglaj depend on this clinic for health care, as the nearest hospital is around 40 kilometers away.”

The May floods in Bosnia were the heaviest in 120 years. Nearly 90,000 people had to leave their homes; in Maglaj alone, over 2,000 houses were strongly damaged, and 214 houses were completely destroyed. Nearly half of the families suffered major economic losses and require aid.

Malteser International was active in Bosnia during the Yugoslavian wars, implementing comprehensive emergency relief and reconstruction programs from 1995 until 2005.