Caritas organisation in Serbia and Bosnia Herzegovina are giving food, clothes and hygiene kits to survivors of devastating floods in South Eastern Europe.
Rivers have burst their banks across the region with three months of rain falling in just a few days. Tens of thousands of people have been forced from their homes by the deadly flooding.
Caritas Serbia National Coordinator Darko Tot said, “Flooding has caused a huge natural disaster across the region. It’s impossible to measure as the emergency is still ongoing. Some of the rivers are continuing to swell and the worst could be yet to come.
“Some towns have been completely wiped out. For the people who live there, it will be very hard to return.
“Many poor families have lost their farms and their livestock have been killed. Among the aid we will be providing will be food for the animals that have survived. It’s vital to keep them alive. We’ll also be looking at long-term support once the immediate humanitarian needs have passed.
In Serbia, collections will be organised in all churches and Caritas offices to channel aid to the most needed places.
“Caritas Serbia is only a small organisation. We’re relying on the help from volunteers and other Caritas around the world to be able to help people affected by the floods,” said Darko Tot.
Diocesan Caritas Sabac has been providing 700-1000 lunches a day for people.
Caritas Valjevo is giving elderly people clothes in evacuation centres. A Caritas laundry is washing and ironing clothes for children and other people in centres. Caritas Valjevo will provide food as the area has been cut off and shortages have been reported.
Caritas Bosnia and Herzegovina Dijana Muzička said, “Flooding like this hasn’t happened in 120 years. It’s a real crisis. People have fled their homes to centres or are staying with friends.
“We have been collecting food and clothes and giving them to those most in need through our network of 150 volunteers.”
Landslides have buried houses and disturbed landmines left since the war in the 1990s. “When people want to return home, the fear of landmines will be a real problem,” said Dijana Muzička.
Caritas offices in Sarajevo were flooded at the start of the crisis and staff used pumps to clear them. They’re already back up and running, with staff providing flood survivors with hot tea and meals.
Pope Francis expresses his ‘personal closeness’ to the victims of heavy flooding in the Balkans during the Sunday Angelus in St Peter’s.