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ACT Alert: Humanitarian Support to Flood Affected in Serbia and Bosnia & Herzegovina

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Geneva, 16 May 2014

1.- Brief description of the emergency and impact

Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina have been affected by the cyclone Tamara with extremely heavy rain, strong wind and low temperatures. Starting on 13 May 2014, more than 110 l/m2 of rain had fallen by the morning of 16 May with more forecasted. Record floods are occurring across northern Bosnia and Herzegovina and the entire territory of Serbia and waters continue to rise rapidly. According to the data available in Serbia, so far 5 people have lost their lives, more than 6.500 are evacuated, 20 people are missing, and 135.000 households do not have access to electricity. The figures are rising every minute. Severe damages have occurred to power systems, drainage, water supply and sewage treatment systems, roads, bridges, and railroads. Significant agricultural and forest areas are under water.

2.- Why is an ACT response needed?

The need for immediate life-saving actions is acute. In addition, the extent of the flooding has the potential to create serious health and livelihood risks from disease and loss of agricultural production once the waters recede. Long-term forecasts call for continued cycles of heavy rain through May. ACT members with presence in Serbia and Bosnia & Herzegovina are Philanthropy, Church World Service (CWS), and International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC). They have combined 10 offices in Serbia and B&H and can use their huge network to reach out to flood affected people in remote areas.

3.- National and international response

Currently, all national services and local authorities and many public companies are fully engaged in evacuation and other life-saving responses. International agencies and other countries in the region are sending specialized rapid response services and providing emergency response funding. Central authorities have sent an open appeal for emergency assistance to the European Union.

4.- ACT Alliance response

ACT members Philanthropy, IOCC and CWS are planning coordinated response across the region. In addition, ACT member, Hungarian Interchurch Aid, is planning is also planning to carry out relief activities in Serbia and in Bosnia & Herzegovina together with its local partner organizations.

5.- Planned activities

ACT members started to coordinate their responses and are continuing collecting data from the field and the different offices. An assessment will be carried out as soon as some of the worst-affected areas are becoming accessible. A conference call is planned with ACT supporting members for Wednesday 21 May to determine the level of funding for an emergency response project.

The initial plan of ACT members is to provide support to soup kitchens, food packages distribution and mobilizing large-scale delivery of hygiene and cleaning supplies to facilitate rapid clean-up and mitigate health and hygiene related problems that will emerge as soon as the waters begin to recede.

6.- Constraints

Access to rural and remote areas will provide significant challenges in the coming days and weeks. Roads and bridges are damaged, utility infrastructures are damaged, and there is already a shortage of emergency response vehicles and equipment necessary to respond to a disaster of this scope and scale. The lack of financial and physical resources will further constrain the response.

Any funding indication or pledge should be communicated to Jean-Daniel Birmele, Director of Finance (jbi@actalliance.org)

For further information please contact:
ACT Senior Programme Officer, Josef Pfattner (phone +4122 791 6710) Or
ACT Acting Deputy General Secretary and Director of Programmes, Pauliina Parhiala (phone + 41 22 7916069 or mobile phone + 41 79 963 5333)

ACT Web Site address: http://www.actalliance.org