OCHA Situation Report No. 4
Serbia & Montenegro
This situation report is based on information received from the UN agencies, funds and programmes resident in Serbia & Montenegro and the Information Centre of the northern Serbian Province of Vojvodina.
1. The levels of water in rivers, canals and floods lakes in the affected region are receding. Gravitation force (i.e. cuts in the levees) and water pumps are used for getting the water back into rivers/the canal and channels are being cleaned. There are sufficient human resources, tools and materials for these interventions. There is, however, a shortage of cisterns for emptying of septic pits.
2. No outbreaks of communicable diseases have been detected since the flood began but a high number of ticks is expected once the water recedes, which poses a risk of spreading of Lyme disease.
3. The area is under epidemiological risk for communicable diseases outbreaks (Hepatitis A, Q fever, leptospirosis, brucellosis, tularaemia, typhoid, dysentery) due to flooding of septic tanks and dead animals in the water. There is increased risk of vector-borne diseases due to migration and concentration of rodents; increased breeding of insects and possible contamination of water piping systems. Food donations, which are bypassing the Red Cross, pose a risk, as food is not always transported hygienically.
4. Donations in food and shoes are still necessary and will remain so even when the time comes to sanitize the terrain.
5. Apart from the Crisis HQ at the Republic level, municipal level crisis teams have also been established.
6. Humanitarian relief is provided to the affected population (hygienic kits, cooked food and dry food, school items for children). The main network for relief provision is the National Red Cross in connection with the IFRC (appeal for international assistance launched on 26 April).
7. The Government of Serbia has produced an Action Plan for the renovation of residential premises, outlining four different modes: 1) the Government may buy unused facilities within the affected municipalities and use these to house the affected population; 2) the Government may build new houses in the same locations as the old ones (this mode is not the best one, since sanitization - a prerequisite for building, will last long); 3) new multi-storey buildings, two locations already under consideration; and 4) to build new houses in neighbouring safer areas (option recommended by the Government - this would ensure security in the near future).
8. The Institute for Public Health in Novi Sad is coordinating activities of the epidemiological service of IPHs in Pancevo and Zrenjanin. On 15 May, disinfection, disinsectisation and rat poisoning began in parts of Jasa Tomic village, monitored by IPH in Zrenjanin. Other public health measures include:
a) assessment of the situation,
b) surveillance of communicable diseases,
c) food safety,
d) water safety and
e) advice to Crisis HQ (all levels) and participation in the Coordination body for response and mitigation
9. Drinking water is still provided from cisterns and bottled water. Adequate chlorination of water will continue after water withdraws.
10. Cooked food is prepared for the affected population by the army, and is under full epidemiological and hygienic control.
11. All persons engaged in the sanitation of the terrain and evacuation of dead animals have been vaccinated against tetanus, and vaccination of approximately 1,000 persons who have returned to Jasa Tomic in order to try and rescue some of their property is being considered. Vaccination will be maintained in accordance with needs and vaccines supply is sufficient. Cases of scabies and enterocolitis have been registered and have been treated. Anti-rabies protection has been provided for all affected.
12. As of 18 May, 106.5 tons of animal cadavers have been transported to abattoirs. There are no reported cases or signs of epidemics among domestic animals. All animals in the affected area have been vaccinated against pig plague, rabies, anthrax and enteroxemy.
13. Public health authorities are planning to place water-resistant bates in the areas around dry islands and surrounding the villages, in order to stop the spread of rodents.
14. The Provincial Secretariat for Health and Social Policy has published brochures and posters in Serbian, Romanian and Hungarian on prevention of spread of contagious diseases and has distributed them in the affected areas
15. The Provincial Secretariats for Economy and Industry are aiming at reviving the "Kovacnica" firm and "Tamis" textile factory in Jasa Tomic village, which would provide for over 100 new job positions and the same number of local affected families.
16. The Government's future flood control strategy for Serbia envisages: 1) existing (reconstructed and well-maintained) flood protection system; 2) gradual and broad implementation of non-structural flood protection measures; and 3) international cooperation in flood management.
UN Country Team (UNCT) and International Response
19. FAO, UNHCR, UNDP and UNICEF have thus far sent missions to the affected area, and have answered the immediate humanitarian needs of the population within their respective mandates. FAO has already an envisaged 6-month (initially) project worth around 100,000 USD, aimed at revitalisation of the agricultural sector.
20. WHO has been in daily contact with the public health authorities at all levels and initiated activation of the ALERT (communicable diseases syndromic reporting for early detection of outbreaks) and provided technical advice to public health institutions. WHO will continue to provide technical assistance regarding surveillance for communicable diseases and control measures.
21. The UN Country Team Task Force received an emergency 30,000 USD cash grant from OCHA, and will soon be procuring humanitarian aid. Also, individual assessments of UN agencies' missions will be compiled into a UNCT Assessment Report, which will include recommendations and suggestions for interventions of various stakeholders. UNCT members will aim at revisiting their emergency preparedness plans and disaster management joint structures.
22. This Situation Report and information on ongoing emergencies is also available on the OCHA Internet Website at http://www.reliefweb.int.
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(GVA) Ms. Elizabeth Byrs, Direct Tel. +41-22-917 2653
(N.Y.) Ms. Stephanie Bunker, Direct Tel. +1-917-892 1669
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