Red Cross helps out in Romania floods

The British Red Cross is providing =A3100,000 to help victims of recent floods in Romania and neighbouring Serbia and Montenegro.

In western Romania, more than 6,000 people have been forced from their homes in Timis county, after the worst flooding for 100 years. In Serbia and Montenegro, around 2,000 people have been affected.

"People in Romania, especially the elderly, have been badly affected as they live in traditional mud-brick houses which couldn't withstand the flood waters. As well as losing their homes, many families have also lost their crops and livestock," said Heidi Gilert, who works on the Central Europe programme at the British Red Cross.

As many people will have to remain in temporary accommodation for several months, there is an ongoing need for relief items such as food, clean drinking water and hygiene kits, which the Romanian Red Cross is distributing.

People also need emotional support. "The Red Cross in Romania and Serbia are visiting families to give them moral support and carry out repairs in their homes," said Heidi.

In both countries, the Red Cross was able to move swiftly. "Before the floods, the Serbia and Montenegro Red Cross had strengthened their disaster preparedness capability and were able to mobilise volunteers and staff immediately. In Romania, we were the first relief organisation on the scene - we were able to use stocks from the Romanian Red Cross disaster relief warehouses," said Heidi.

Of the =A3100,000 sent to the region, =A340,000 was contributed by the UK Government towards the Romanian relief effort.