In response to severe floods which hit Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, the EU continues to provide help and assistance to deal with the consequences of this natural disaster. In addition to immediate humanitarian aid provided so far, the European Commission has allocated an extra €65 million to tackle the aftermath of the floods.
Out of this, €3 million in humanitarian aid will be released to help the most vulnerable people in both countries to address their most immediate needs, in particular food, health and sanitation, first aid and shelter. A priority is the provision of safe drinking water, basic emergency items such as blankets, mattresses, beds, linen, as well as utensils and supplies such as drying equipment for the rehabilitation of damaged homes. These funds will be channelled through the Red Cross/Red Crescent and other partner organisations on the ground.
The remaining €62 million has been mobilised to respond to short to medium term reconstruction and relief needs in the affected areas. This funding is re-allocated from previous programmes under the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA). The money will be available by the end of June. It will include support for public infrastructure such as schools and social care services as well as basic equipment for enterprises and farms to restart their activities. In addition, the IPA 2013 programme will cover a call for proposals of 2 million to be published in June in support of the introduction of flood response modules in line with the EU civil protection mechanism.
The EU is committed to continue its support also in the medium to long term with new IPA money that will be allocated for the period 2014-2020. The exact scope and amount will be decided on the basis of a comprehensive needs assessments expected in the coming weeks, so that the funds can be made available to both countries over the summer. The European Commission is working with the affected countries and in close coordination with the International Financial Institutions (IFIs) to assess the exact needs and identify the best instruments and financial support. On this basis, the EU will mobilise further IPA funding to support infrastructure reconstruction, and improve river and flood risk management, also from a regional perspective. This will help to better anticipate and mitigate risks as well as improve civil protection mechanisms in case of natural disasters.
The dedicated EU Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP, former Instrument for Stability) is already providing targeted support with key expertise for the conduct of needs assessments. The instrument will also provide further funding for addressing the critical issue of mines in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The humanitarian funding of €3 million comes on top of the in-kind assistance provided by 22 EU Member States through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. More than 660 relief workers have been deployed to the two countries, bringing with them motorised boats, helicopters, pumping equipment and humanitarian kits.
The European Commission’s Emergency Response and Coordination Centre (ERCC) has been in constant contact with the relevant authorities of the affected countries to make sure that the incoming aid matches the needs on the ground. Two EU civil protection teams helped coordinate the delivery of the assistance in Serbia and in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The European Commission is also co-financing the transportation cost of the assistance and providing satellite images of the flooded areas to the authorities.