In Serbia, as of 20th May, an estimated 1.2 million people, including some 210,000 children, have been affected by the floods. Some 32,000 people have been evacuated from the affected areas, including 24,000 people from the municipality of Obrenovac, where the situation is the worst. Among those evacuated, some 6,000 are housed in 43 temporary accommodation facilities in Belgrade organized by the City of Belgrade and coordinated by the Serbian Red Cross (hotels, sports facilities, fair grounds and cultural centers), whereas the remainder are staying with relatives and friends. A large number of the families in collective centres are Roma, the majority of whom lost their home and belongings in the flooding.
Preliminary reports are indicating that at least twenty-two persons have lost their lives and the numbers of missing are still being compiled. The final numbers will be only known once water recedes. The floods are most severe in Western and Central Serbia, notably the districts of Kolubara, Macva, and Morava. Several of the larger towns in these districts have a significant number of Roma living in settlements, In Obrenovac alone, 20 Roma settlements are believed to have been completely washed away. The Sava River continues to rise, as well as the Danube and has resulted in further evacuations from Obrenovac. The peak of the “wave” is still expected in the Sava and Danube Rivers in the coming 48 hours, and there is serious risk of the rivers breaking their banks/levees.
Roads and other infrastructure have been seriously damaged by floods and landslides in many areas, with some areas still completely cut off. This poses a serious challenge for relief work. Social service infrastructure, such as health centres and schools, have also been severely affected by the floods, as of 20 May150 schools in most affected areas in Serbia remain closed.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
In Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), the northern, eastern and central parts of the country have received heavy rainfall, with some areas receiving more than 250 liters of rain per square meter which is the highest in the last 120 years. This caused extreme water levels of rivers Bosna, Sava, Vrbas and their tributaries. Latest news reports estimate that this has caused more than 2,000 landslides across the country.
According to the country’s reports over 1 million people have been affected directly or indirectly by the floods requiring evacuation of 40,000 people1 . So far, 32 deaths have been reported. According to estimates close to 250,000 children might be affected by this disaster.
Agricultural lands (approximately 3,000 hectares) in all the affected areas of northern, eastern and central parts of the country are flooded with green houses, supplies and crops largely destroyed and livestock endangered. More than 100,000 residential buildings are destroyed or are under threat. Dozens of industrial buildings in affected areas have been severely damaged by the floods. More than 230 public institutions such as schools and health centers are out of function or destroyed.
In addition to the natural component of this crisis, the BiH authorities have issued strong warnings related to the unearthing of mines and other unexploded devices from the 1992-1995 conflict, as a result of landslides. Over 40 municipalities have been directly affected and 14 declared the State of Emergency. The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH), Brcko District, and Republika Srpska have declared a state of emergency.
In the most affected locations both urban and rural areas are completely covered with water, cut off and without electricity or communication means. In the city of Banja Luka an estimate of 8,500 people are left without electricity. Cities of Doboj,
Maglaj, Olovo, Bijelina, Tuzla, Zvornik, Samac are experiencing major flooding including in central city areas. Traffic is stopped or unable to move due to damages on numerous regional motorways and bridges, and currently around 30% of the country is impassable. The impact of floods in the capital, Sarajevo, is less severe.
UNICEF and its partners, including sister UN agencies and international and national non-governmental organisations, are working closely with the Governments of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia to respond swiftly and effectively to the crisis. In order to respond quickly, UNICEF is requesting an initial US$ 3.6 million to meet the immediate and medium-term needs of children and women throughout the affected areas in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia.