Bosnia and Herzegovina

Vulnerable Roma Families Receive Much Needed Help

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Floods that hit Bosnia and Herzegovina in May this year were especially hard for Roma communities, already one of the most vulnerable minorities in the country.

In Roma settlement near Doboj, one of the cities worst hit by floods, 57-year old Ferida Imsirević and her family, including eleven grandchildren and four grand-grandchildren, spent 25 days without water and electricity. “We were both hungry and thirsty“, says Ferida, as she waits in distribution line on hot August sun to receive food and hygienic packages. Other residents of the settlement impatiently gather around the truck with help waiting for their name to be called out.

The distribution was organized as part of the project „Assistance to Roma Communities Affected by Floods“, during which 730 packages containing basic food and hygienic supplies are being handed out to the most vulnerable Roma families. The project is being implemented by World Vision BiH in cooperation with local partner, Center for Roma support “Romalen” from Kakanj. The project is financed by the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

„We welcome any help here. Due to the floods, many people here can’t earn money, they lost their jobs“, says Damir, one of the people living in the settlement.

In addition to distribution of food and hygienic packages, project will focus on addressing some of the key issues Roma communities affected by floods face, including removal of debris and organization of info health sessions in Roma communities in order to raise awareness about possible infections in the post-floods period. Also, “Cash for Work” program enabled number of Roma community members to work on temporary floods recovery assignments and generate additional income.

On the day when supplies were distributed, 22 Roma volunteers from Kakanj and Visoko travelled to Doboj to help clean the city from the debris, filth and mud left after water receded. They already helped clean houses in Maglaj Municipality, area that was flooded in both May and August.

“We want to help these people. I feel very sorry when I see damage done by floods”, says 49-year old Zemina who cleaned residential building in Doboj centre.

Project “Assistance to Roma communities affected by floods” will reach out to 300 Roma families in flood affected municipalities of Maglaj, Doboj, Šamac, Bijeljina, Orašje, Odžak and Brčko District.