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Dutch experts join Balkan flood relief effort

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Last weekend two Dutch experts were deployed in the flood relief effort in Bosnia and Serbia, where they joined teams led by the EU and UN. Foreign trade and development cooperation minister Lilianne Ploumen said, ‘Disasters like this call for the rapid and effective deployment of international aid efforts.’

Heavy and persistent rainfall has caused various rivers in the Balkans to burst their banks, causing serious flooding. The crisis has reached emergency proportions in Bosnia and Serbia, where the authorities estimate that scores of people have lost their lives.

The EU team in Bosnia includes a Dutch aid coordinator who is specially trained for disasters like these and can be deployed at short notice. A United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) unit is active in Serbia. This team includes a Dutch water expert from the private sector, who can rapidly assess how to stabilise the water level and what material and equipment will be needed for that purpose. Ms Ploumen said, ‘This is the kind of specifically Dutch expertise that can help to keep the disaster from getting worse.’

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been in contact with the Red Cross about possible additional aid. Through the Dutch embassies in the affected countries it is also constantly monitoring developments and assessing how to limit human suffering and material damage as effectively as possible.