By Nicole Robicheau, IFRC
It didn’t take long after the flooding began for Lea Kujudnzic’s phone to start ringing off the hook. The Head of International Affairs for the Red Cross Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina was receiving offers of assistance from many Red Cross and Red Crescent societies in neighbouring countries.
“We’re very thankful and grateful that our neighbours have shown such big hearts in this disaster especially because we know that many are not in good economic situations,” said Kujudnzic.
Just across the border, the country of Croatia has also been affected by the same flooding. Even so, the Croatian Red Cross has so far raised nearly 400,000 euros for its neighbours.
"Although we’re faced with a very serious situation in our own country, in the spirit of our Movement and the enormous needs in our neighbouring countries, we have been fundraising for the people affected by floods in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia from the onset of the disaster,” said Robert Markt, executive president of the Croatian Red Cross.
The Red Cross of Montenegro has also been fundraising by organizing tournaments, concerts, and flower and cake sales. So far more than 475,000 Euros has been raised.
“Besides professional help, these situations also ask for other types of action, the human one, especially considering that they are our neighbours,” said Jelena Dubak, Secretary General of the Red Cross of Montenegro. “The pictures we were watching every day united all of us in Montenegro, which resulted in collecting significant amounts of aid.”
Further north, Scandinavian countries such as Norway are also lending a helping hand. The Norwegian Red Cross launched a national fundraising campaign and to date has raised more than 180,000 euros for flood victims.
“The Norwegian public has followed the evolving Balkans floods situation with anxiety and sympathy for the victims and all those who’ve been evacuated and have lost their properties,” said Karsten Solheim, programme coordinator for Europe for the Norwegian Red Cross.
According to Serbian Red Cross volunteer Milan Mirkovi, the help has been much needed.
“In this disaster, one of the best things that happened was the outpouring of solidarity. We had to open more than 40 centres in Belgrade for people being evacuated from Obrenovac and other places, and we never lacked food or dry clothes or volunteers,” said Mirkovic.