This article appeared in the Swedish Daily GP (Göteborgs-Posten) 23 May 2014. The report is representative of the kind of news we have been hearing from towns across Bosnia and Herzegovina that were hit by the floods, Doboj, Zavidovici, Orasje, Maglaj, Bosanski Šamac, Bjeljina as well as numerous hamlets and villages in the affected areas. The floods have made a bad situation worse and Bosnia and Herzegovina needs all the help it can get right now. That´s why in the next couple of posts I will try to devote attention to the floods in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
He came to Sarajevo last weekend, that´s where the EU-team is working together with the national organization for security and disaster relief but also with the UN and The Red Cross.
“We´re sitting in a basement, our Bosnian colleagues have a very humble attitude but a lot of Bosnians are are completely exhausted. The kind of assistance that will be needed will change once the rescue efforts go into another phase” according to Jan Karlsson.
Jan Karlsson is on loan from the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) he was among other things in charge of part of the relief effort in Thailand after the 2004 tsunami. His team is working in one particulary hard hit part of Bosnia and Herzegovina: Posavina and the biggest town in the area; Orasje. Both the canton and the town are right next to the river Sava. “At present we only have one man up there, but he says it´s pretty bad, and that is without yet knowing the full extent of everything,”
The last few days the EU-team has managed to get a hospital in Orasje to work, the roads are ruined or buried under the dirt that has skated a few hundred meters. That also makes the reconstruction efforts heavier and very dangerous.
“I have seen maps of the areas where there are still a lot of landmines left over from the war twenty years ago. The landmines were placed along the frontlines between the fighting parties but now they have moved and nobody knows anymore where they are.”
“There is a belief that it is going to cost three times more to rebuild the network of roads in Bosnia and Herzegovina then in Serbia and precisely because of the mine clearing effort. The first phase of the rescue effort, saving lives is drawing to a close. Now we need to begin the clean-up effort and trying to get the infrastructure in order again. We´ll ned water purification efforts, blankets, tents, clothes, medicine and food for the many thousand that have been evacuated.”
“The UN, EU and the national organization are working on setting up a team to evaluate what the continued need for help will be in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The four groups have just barely a week to comprise a report on the continued need for assistance. Those reports are vital in order to properly evaluate the future financial assistance. One thing is certain, Bosnia and Herzegovina will need international help for years to come.”