22 Maggio 2014

Delivering aid and assessing the needs



Oxfam staff interviewing people and assessing their needs
Oxfam staff at work

Yesterday Oxfam team went to North Bosnia and Herzegovina, delivering some aid and assessing the urgent needs of people in this area, heavily hit by the flooding.

In general, it is the desperate situation as in other parts of the country affected by floods. There is no electricity in the whole area still and water supplies are scarce, threatened by the pollution. Yet, high temperatures and floating dead animals present dangerous source of possible infections and diseases. Many volunteers are trying to address this problem, exposing themselves to health hazards, lacking the proper equipment.

Picture is gloomy of the town completely under water, lit by the sun shining full strength as we entered Šamac. But, the sun could not diminish the feeling of sadness and desperation we felt.

Because of the dangers of infection and diseases the town authorities have ordered that each person that enters the town needs a special permission to do so. The only people that are allowed in town are medical and humanitarian aid.

People were still being evacuated as we went on deeper into town with our boat. Although over 6000 people have been already evacuated, about 800 of them are still refusing to leave their homes and are assisted with food and water by boats. The community response is amazing, people helping each other in every which way they can. Many young people are involved volunteering to help.

Delivering aid, such as hygiene kits
Delivering hygiene kits

Šamac is desperate for sanitary kits, high rubber boots, shovels, items for personal hygiene and cleaning houses and streets, generators and means for collection and management of huge amounts of mud, rubbish and rubble left behind by the water.

On our way to Šamac, we also went to assess the situation in nearby Modriča and Odžak, where the situation is more or less the same, but where some parts have been spared. One third of Odžak territory is covered with 3.5 meters of water, 5 000 people evacuated from their homes, some of which are completely destroyed. There is one temporary shelter in Odžak accommodating around 3000 people during the day, while around 200 of them are regularly spending night there. There are many health hazards, with 3000 dead pigs floating and numerous lagoons, pockets of collected water that cannot escape without assistance. There is desperate need for portable showers to clean themselves and equipment after removing the carcasses, to prevent spreading of disease and getting sick. 50m2 of the fertile land have been destroyed in this area heavily reliant on agriculture, where people now fear the future.

People in the shelter. For children and elder the situation is much more dramatic
Sheltered people

There are 400 houses completely destroyed in Modriča, while additional 800 have been heavily damaged. 1 800 people have been evacuated in this town only, and it is unknown if those people will ever be able to really go back to their homes. 70% of water supplies in Modriča is under threat of contamination and there is lack of water for cleaning the houses, furniture and people. Driers, disinfectants, mattresses, are desperately needed in Modriča.

Oxfam is already responding to urgent needs and delivering aid in the three areas of BiH: Middle BiH (Doboj, Maglaj, Živinice, Zavidovići), North (Šamac, Modriča and Odžak) and North-East (Bijeljina).

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