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EU facilitated assistance on its way to Serbia and Bosnia & Herzegovina

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16/05/2014 (UPDATED VERSION) – Following the severe flooding in large parts of both Serbia and Bosnia & Herzegovina, the two countries have requested assistance through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. The requests follow Serbia's declaration yesterday of the entire country in State of Emergency, as well as attempts of the Bosnian Herzegovinian government to evacuate thousands of its residents.

Serbia's urgent request for high capacity water pumps and operational teams was channelled through the EU Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) and has so far been answered positively by six Member States, namely: Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Germany, Latvia, and Slovenia. Aid is currently being arranged for deployment of rescue boats, high capacity pumps and operational teams in Serbia.

Following the same procedure, Austria, Luxembourg and Slovenia have responded to the request of Bosnia & Herzegovina, offering a helicopter and a number of motor boats to support the evacuation of residents and transportation water, medicines and food.

"I am grateful to our German, Bulgarian, Slovenian and Austrian colleagues for this swift demonstration of solidarity. Once again we've demonstrated that the EU's neighbouring countries can count on us also in difficult times," said Kristalina Georgieva, the European Union Commissioner for international cooperation, humanitarian aid and crisis response.

The ERCC is in close contact with both affected countries and with participating states in the EU Civil Protection Mechanism to investigate the possibilities of further assistance. The European Commission will also provide satellite imagery of the flooded areas to the relevant authorities in the two countries.

Background

Due to continuous rainfall that started on 13 May 2014 and caused floods in Serbia and in Bosnia & Herzegovina, roads connecting municipalities are blocked, some areas are without electricity and water supply and mobile networks are not operational. Additionally, several landslides took place causing additional damages to regional roads. Several bridges were destroyed and some of villages have been cut off. The evacuation of the people trapped by the floods is ongoing. Weather conditions for the next two days predict continued rainfall.

On the EU Civil Protection Mechanism

The European Union Civil Protection Mechanism facilitates co-operation in disaster response, preparedness, and prevention among 32 European states (EU-28 plus the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway). With the help of the Commission, the participating countries pool the resources that can be made available to disaster-stricken countries all over the world. When activated, the Mechanism coordinates the provision of assistance.

The European Commission manages the Mechanism through the Emergency Response Coordination Centre. Operating 24/7, the ERCC monitors risks and emergencies around the world and serves as an information and coordination hub during emergencies. Among other tasks, the ERCC also ensures that Member States are fully aware of the situation on-site and can make informed decisions for providing financial and in-kind assistance.

How the Emergency Response Coordination Centre works:

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-14-349_en.htm

The European Commission's humanitarian aid and civil protection:

http://ec.europa.eu/echo/index_en.htm

Commissioner Georgieva's website:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/georgieva/index_en.htm

Emergency Response Coordination Centre:

http://ec.europa.eu/echo/files/aid/countries/factsheets/thematic/ERC_en.pdf

Contacts : David Sharrock (+32 2 296 89 09)
Irina Novakova (+32 2 295 75 17)