Maybe it's because the disaster happened in a remote, rural area, far from media hubs. Maybe it’s “too small” to warrant a global reaction. Whatever the reason, some emergencies don't get as much attention as others. For the people living through these crises, however, they are just as real, heartbreaking and life-changing as the big catastrophes that go viral or that benefit from the ‘CNN effect’.
And when you’ve lost your home to a flood, fire or landslide – or you’ve had to leave town with nothing but the clothes on your back – you don’t have time for the world to catch on.
This is why the IFRC has a rapid-response funding mechanism called the Disaster Response Emergency Fund (IFRC-DREF) that gets funds quickly to all crises, large or small. Here are ten of the least-known disasters that IFRC-DREF responded to in 2023.
1. El Nino in Ecuador
In the later half of 2023, extreme rainfall generated by the El Niño phenomenon on the Ecuadorian coast caused rapid flooding. Fortunately, affected communities were more prepared than in the past thanks to actions they took ahead of the rains. When the El Nino’s impacts were first forecast, government agencies declared that preparing for and preventing damage from the expected heavy rains was a national priority. For its part, the IFRC-DREF allocated funds to ensure 1,000 at-risk families would have safe drinking water, proper waste management, food set aside and many other precautionary measures.
2. Cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe
Like many other relatively localized or regional epidemics, the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe in 2023 has received little international attention. It started in February 2023 and to date, suspected and confirmed cases have been reported in 41 districts in all the country’s 10 provinces. The IFRC has launched an emergency appeal to support the work of the Zimbabwe Red Cross, but even before that, IFRC-DREF dispersed CHF 500,000 to support 141,257 people with health care and water, sanitation and hygiene support in key impacted areas. The goal is to prevent and control the spread of Cholera, interrupt the chain of transmission, facilitate the improvement of case management and improve basic sanitation, hygiene practices and access to safe drinking water.
3. Floods in Bosnia-Herzegovina
The northwestern area of Bosnia and Herzegovina experienced intense rainfall in mid-May 2023, causing widespread flooding and extensive damage to people’s houses and local infrastructure. The floods also destroyed crops and rendered much farmland and dairy production inoperable. It was a severe blow to one of the lowest-income areas in Europe, a region that relies on local agriculture for sustenance and income. IFRC-DREF allocated CHF 126,504 to the Bosnian Red Cross to support 1500 people through a variety of assistance measures, including cash transfers, distribution of essential equipment and hygiene supplie, and dissemination of health information, among other things.
4. Storms and floods on top of drought and conflict
Sometimes disasters are hidden by the larger crisis enveloping a particular region. The scale of the humanitarian suffering in Yemen is so massive and widespread, there was little notice of the tropical cyclone that hit the country in October 2023. Tropical Cyclone Tej made landfall over the southern coast of Al Mahrah Governorate on the night of 23 October and continued to move northwestward. The cyclone caused widespread flooding, infrastructure destruction, displacement of communities, and the loss of many lives. IFRC-DREF quickly supported the response of Yemen Red Crescent with CHF 281,000 to support internally displaced people, host communities, returnees, marginalized groups, and migrants/refugees.
5. Fires in Chile
In Febuary 2023, strong winds and high temperatures caused dozens of forest fires across central and southern Chile, leading to casualties and widespread damage. They followed earlier, destructive forest fires in December 2022 that spread rapidly around the city of Viña del Mar. With IFRC-DREF funding, the Chilean Red Cross provided support to more than 5,000 people. Staff and volunteer teams provided medical support and distributed cash so that people could buy the things they needed to recover.More information.
6. Deadly Marburg outbreak in Gabon
In early February 2023, the Government of Equatorial Guinea reported the death of nine people who presented symptoms of hemorrhagic fever and soon after the WHO confirmed the country was experiencing an epidemic of Marburg disease. The Gabon Red Cross contributed to the government’s preventive measures and by 15 May, the epidemic over. Roughly CHF 140,000 in emergency DREF funds are now being used to increase the Gabon Red Cross’s ability to respond to Marburg disease and other outbreaks in the future by ensuring the mobilized personnel can detect suspected cases quickly, anticipate spread and prepare for a coordinated response with health authorities.
7. Severe hail storms in Armenia
In June 2023, severe hailstorms struck various regions of Armenia, causing extensive damage and disruption. In the southern region, rural communities near the border experienced heavy precipitation that overwhelmed sewage systems, flooded streets and houses, and rendered roads and bridges impassable. The hail and subsequent flooding resulted in significant damage to houses, livestock, gardens, and food stocks. IFRC-DREF quickly allocated CHF 386,194to support Armenian Red Cross's efforts to help 2,390 people who lost crops, livelihoods or who suffered extreme damage to their homes.
8. Population Movement in Benin
Around the world, there are hundreds of places where people are fleeing violence that rarely gets reported in international media. Here’s one case in point: over the past three years, non-state armed groups in the Sahel region has increased in the border area of Burkina Faso with Benin and Togo, forcing thousands to leave their homes. The IFRC-DREF allocated CHF 259,928 to support Benin Red Cross in assisting displaced people and host communities in Benin. The funds were used to provide immediate food and material aid to the most vulnerable households, covering immediate needs (shelter, access to drinking water, basic household supplies) for at least 3,000 people.
9. Cold spells and snowstorms in Mongolia
A devastating snowstorm swept across eastern parts of Mongolia and certain provinces in Gobi areas, starting on 19 May 2023. The storm brought high winds and 124 people (mostly from herder community) were reported missing after following their livestock, which wandered off because of the storm. A total of 122 people were found, but tragically 2 people died. There were also severe damage to infrastructure, including the collapse of 22 electricity sub-stations, which caused power outage in several counties. Nearly 150 households suffered loss or severe damage to their “gers” or yurts (traditional circular, domed structures), as well as widespread death of livestock. IFRC-DREF allocated CHF 337,609 to support the Mongolian Red Cross's efforts to provide shelter, cash assistance and psychosocial support to 3,400 people.
10. Drought in Uruguay
Uruguay is currently experiencing widespread drought due to a lack of rainfall since September 2022 and increasingly high temperatures in the summer seasons—prompting the Uruguayan government to declare a state of emergency. The government officially requested the support of the Uruguayan Red Cross to conduct a needs assessment of the drought, so it could understand how it was impacting people and agricultural industries. With funding IFRC-DREF, Uruguayan Red Cross teams headed out into the most-affected areas to speak to more than 1,300 familiesabout the drought’s impact on their health, livelihoods and access to water. Their findings are helping the government make more informed decisions on how to address the drought, taking into account the real needs of those affected.More information.
Violence and poverty drive millions of people from their homes every year. Thousands end up in the Balkans after long and dangerous journeys over land and across the Mediterranean.
“Many flee conflict ravaging their countries of origin. Some have lost a father, a mother, a brother, a sister… or even their entire family because of war. Others didn’t want to be conscripted into the military and be forced to kill other people. Or they graduated from the best universities but did not have job opportunities to secure their future.”
That is how Farouk Hwedy, from Syria, described the refugees and migrants he is assisting as part of the Mobile Team of the Red Cross Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo.
He left Damascus in 2013 and arrived in Sarajevo five years later, after travelling through Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Greece. Grateful for having reached a safe haven, he is now giving a hand to others.
“We are helping people from Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia… For me, it is a great honor to serve them because I know what they have been through and what they are suffering from. I know what they are missing, as it happened to me as well,” he explained.
With support from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the Red Cross Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina has been running Mobile Teams across the country since March 2019, and currently has 11 teams, which have had to readjust their work as new challenges emerge.
“Before, I used to wake up every morning to go to reception centres, squares or bus stations with my colleagues to see migrants, listen to them and help them. With the COVID-19 pandemic everything has become difficult, but I love my work and I do my best to help more,” highlighted Farouk.
Exhausted or disoriented, some people just want a listening ear. However, most are also lacking basic necessities, are injured or need other types of support. Farouk has to reinforce COVID-19 prevention and provide people with personal protective equipment.
“We make every effort to explain the epidemiological situation to migrants, the risks, how to minimise them and prevent infections. We give them hand sanitisers and anything else they may need when we see them on our visits,” he added.
So far, the mobile teams of the Red Cross Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina have distributed 244,200 food parcels, 169,400 non-food items (including blankets, clothes and sleeping bags), 42,700 hygiene kits and 16.200 personal protective items including masks and hand sanitiser. In addition, they have administered psychosocial support or first aid services more than 140,000 times.
Farouk is delighted to be part of a Mobile Team. “Volunteering with the Red Cross is one of the most positive things in my life, it makes me happy,” he said.
Looking at the picture of a toddler they recently assisted, he remembered him dearly. “I wish this child every success. We met him at the bus station and I will never forget him. He was coming from Serbia with his parents and had an indescribable smile. He started playing with us as if he had finally found safety.”
He hopes the pandemic will end soon, and that people will grow more understanding of refugees and migrants: “At the end of the day, what everybody is looking for is just a decent life, a better future.”
Budapest/Geneva, 15 January 2021 – Three truck-loads laden with emergency relief supplies for more than 3,000 stranded migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina are due to arrive in the country late today.
The warm clothing, blankets and drinking water from the Italian Red Cross will be distributed to the migrants who have been in miserable conditions near the Croatian border since the Lipa camp was destroyed in a fire last month, leaving an estimated 1,400 people without shelter. The supplies will also be distributed to at-risk migrants in other areas of the country.
Mobile teams from the Red Cross Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina continue their work on the ground providing food, hot drinks, warm clothing, bedding, and first aid to thousands of migrants throughout the Una-Sana Canton.
The President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Francesco Rocca, called for a real common European approach to migration. He said that the humanitarian situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is the result of the EU externalization strategy that exposes migrants to enhanced risks at its external borders, adding that migrants and local communities cannot be left exposed to high risks and vulnerabilities.
“We are extremely concerned for the welfare, access to services and protection of thousands of vulnerable migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We work with all stakeholders to ensure that migrants have immediate access to safe and dignified accommodation, including heating and water, while more permanent solutions are found.
“No one should live in these dire conditions. Migrants must have access to humanitarian assistance including health support and must not be left alone without shelter in freezing weather. This is unacceptable. EU Member States must show solidarity and not leave migrants and authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to cope with this situation on their own,” Mr Rocca said.
The IFRC also expresses concerns about the situation that local communities are facing. These communities were already vulnerable before the arrival of migrants and the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The increased number of people in these communities has put pressure on services and infrastructure. As a result, the IFRC is supporting the local Red Cross to run mobile teams that aim to help 50,000 migrants and 4,500 people from host communities through the end of 2021.
Budapest/Geneva, 24 October 2019–A humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding at a makeshift migrant camp on the outskirts of Bihac in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is warning today.
The Vucjak camp – which has been termed “The Jungle” by people living there – has no running water, no electricity, no usable toilets, and mouldy, leaking, overcrowded tents.
Currently, there are about 700 migrants living in the camp. Last week there were 2,500 people there in some days. The camp only has 80 tents, no medical assistance, and just five volunteers from Bosnia and Herzegovina Red Cross Society to help the whole camp population.
Adnan Kurtagic, one of the Red Cross volunteers working at Vucjak, says the situation is heartbreaking and devastating.
“They come to me to talk. They cry and cry. They say, ‘I miss my home, my mother has died, the police did this’. I hear a lot of stories. I don’t know how I don’t break – for two months now I have only been able to sleep two or three hours a night and even then, I dream about them.”
He says the team from the Red Cross Bihac City is responsible for a wide range of tasks. They clean the camp, feed hundreds of people a day, and provide basic first aid and psychosocial support.
The health situation at Vucjak is particularly concerning, says the Red Cross’ Kurtagic. There are people in the camp with untreated broken limbs and 70 per cent of the population has scabies.
“The sanitation and hygiene situation is alarming. I don’t know how they can sleep. People should not be living here and it should be closed, but first these people need somewhere to go. We can hardly manage but I don’t want to leave these people all alone. If Red Cross leaves, there will be no food, no water, no clothes, no help - it will be awful.”
IFRC’s operations manager for Bosnia and Herzegovina Indira Kulenovic agrees that Vucjak camp should be urgently closed and the people moved to a safe, secure place that meets at least the basic humanitarian standards.
“These poor people are sleeping in the mud, six to one blanket, in temperatures falling to below zero at night. At least half of them require medical assistance, and the many do not even have shoes. The conditions are inhumane, and their suffering is overwhelming,” says Kulenovic.
“There is no dignity for these people. Most of them are covered in scabies bites, have fevers and diarrhoea, and winter is approaching. There will be a metre of snow at Vucjak camp in a few weeks,” Kulenovic says.
Since the beginning of 2019, 23,000 migrants have arrived in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Existing migrant reception centres are full and thousands are sleeping on the streets or squatting in empty houses.
The Red Cross Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina has seven mobile teams who have so far assisted 41,000 people but Kulenovic says more are needed. The teams provide people at Vucjak and those on the roadside with food, water, clothes, blankets, psychosocial support and first aid. They also distribute information on active landmine fields to warn migrants of the dangers.
IFRC and the Red Cross Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina are appealing to their partners for 3.3 million Swiss francs to provide food, hygiene items, first aid and other assistance to 7,600 of the most vulnerable migrants along with cash grants for 1,500 host families during 2019. The appeal is about one third funded.
Press photos are availablehere,B rollhereand interviewshere
By Katarina Zoric, IFRC
Although she’s been volunteering for more than 30 years, 70-year-old Senka Vuković is not yet tired of it. On the contrary, this retired teacher is full of life, very active and has a lot to offer to people around her.
“Volunteering is my lifestyle. Through it, I’ve experienced many happy as well as many sad moments and I'm grateful for all of them”, says Senka.
Her first contact with the Red Cross was in elementary school and she knew right away that one day she’d become a volunteer. She started volunteering part-time and became more and more engaged with helping others.
“I loved working with children the most. I was especially happy every time we had a chance to take kids from low income families to the seaside for summer holidays. Those children saw the sea for the first time and bringing a smile to their faces is still the most rewarding thing I can think of,” she says.
Senka experienced a lot of painful moments too. Most of them happened during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Memories of injured people, innocent victims and thousands who had to leave their homes and families are still vivid.
Because of this, she deeply understands people who are forced to leave their homes today. Together with her colleagues from the Red Cross of Bihac City in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Senka has spent the last 18 months helping migrants in Una-Sana Canton, especially those who are separated from their families.
“I understand how difficult it is for them and I try to help them to get in touch with their families. I talk with them, listen what they’re saying and sometimes all they need is to be heard,” she says.
Everything she has learned during her years of volunteering, Senka gladly shares with her younger colleagues.
“I’m giving them my wisdom and in return, they’re keeping me young”, she concludes with a smile.
By Katarina Zoric, IFRC
The smiling face of 17-year-old Mxabn from Iraq masks the hardships of the last year and a half. She is hundreds of kilometres from home, has lived in a migrant centre for eight months, and still hasn’t reached her hoped-for final destination – Germany.
Together with her family, the teenager left Iraq fearing for her life and started down a path full of uncertainty.
“The situation in Iraq wasn’t and still isn’t good. Because of the conflicts and constant explosions we were scared for our lives. My father couldn’t earn enough money for a normal life. We all wanted a better life and that's why we’ve decided to leave our country,” says Mxabn.
Mxabn is currently living in the temporary migrant reception centre Sedra, in Bihac, Bosnia and Herzegovina. She has found new friends there; she’s learning new languages and in her spare time, she likes to draw.
"I've been in Sedra for eight months now and I like it here. My whole family likes it here.But we still want to go to Germany. We would like to start our new life as soon as possible," says Mxabn.
She also likes to spend time with the Red Cross volunteers.
"I like talking to them, and we often laugh together. It means a lot to me to have these nice people in my life. I think of them as my friends," she says.
Mxabn’s journey from Iraq to Bosnia and Herzegovina was arduous. She walked hundreds of kilometres and stayed in many camps throughout Turkey, Greece and Macedonia. There wasn’t always enough food for her and her family and they struggled with heat and cold, but Mxabn tries not to focus on the difficult situations she experienced.
Instead, she looks toward the future.
"I hope we’ll soon get to Germany. I want a normal life with my family. I would like to become a doctor, but I know I have to learn German language first,” Mxabn says.
Despite all the obstacles she has faced and the uncertain future, Mxabn remains optimistic and truly believes that one day all her dreams will come true.
Budapest/Geneva, 30 May 2019 - Thousands of people trapped in Bosnia and Herzegovina desperately need humanitarian assistance and some are dying while trying to find shelter, says the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
Since the beginning of 2019 the country’s security agencies estimate around 6,000 people, including women and children, have entered Bosnia and Herzegovina, but current transit centres holding around 3,500 people are full and thousands are sleeping rough.
Indira Kulenovic, operations manager for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), in Bosnia and Herzegovina, said: “People are sleeping in parks, in carparks, on the footpath, and in dangerous buildings."
“A few weeks ago three migrants sheltering in an abandoned building burned to death when a candle they were using caused a fire. Soon after, another fell from the top floor of a building he was sheltering in. Psychological stress among migrants is high – just last week one man set himself on fire in desperation. The situation is dire,” Kulenovic said.
The Red Cross Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina has six mobile teams providing people on the move with food, water, clothes, blankets, psychosocial support and first aid. The mobile teams are also distributing information on active landmine fields to warn migrants of the dangers of unexploded ordinances. Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of the most landmine-contaminated countries in Europe.
Red Cross volunteers are working in five migrant centres across the country, preparing meals for 3,000 people a day, with food supplies provided by IOM. They are also providing clothing, bedding, tents, hygiene items and first aid.
The Secretary General of the Red Cross Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina Mr Rajko Lazic said that, despite the best efforts of aid agencies to provide food and shelter, living conditions for many people remain inadequate in the centres, and worse for the people outside.
“Our teams are doing what they can but they are stretched to the limit and the situation has reached a critical point. This is a humanitarian crisis,” Mr Lazic said.
As a result of the crowded conditions in the centres, there has been an alarming increase in some communicable diseases. The Minister of Health Dr. Nermina Cemalovic said on 15 May there were 800 cases of scabies in Bihac transit centres.
Health officials are also trying to prevent a measles outbreak, tracing all known contacts of at least two humanitarian workers who have been hospitalised with the disease. Officials have also urged all humanitarian agencies to ensure their staff are fully vaccinated.
“We are extremely concerned for people on the move in Bosnia and Herzegovina. They are arriving in poor condition, and many, including children, have walked for weeks. They are hungry, exhausted, sick and cold and traumatised by their journeys. The recent wet weather has just made their misery worse,” Kulenovic said.
Spring has brought more arrivals and put even more pressure on the Una-Sana Canton area in the north west of the country near the Croatian border. Last year 25,000 migrants entered Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Ms Kulenovic said the local population is suffering as well, from the pressure that extra numbers has put on services, security, land and property. The IFRC will also be assisting local communities with cash grants.
IFRC and the Red Cross Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina are appealing to their partners for 3.3 million Swiss francs to provide food, hygiene items, first aid and other assistance to 7,600 of the most vulnerable migrants along with cash grants for 1,500 host families during 2019. The appeal is less than one third funded.
Press photos are available here.
Budapest/Geneva, 10 December 2018 - Thousands of people trapped in Bosnia and Herzegovina desperately need humanitarian assistance ahead of freezing winter temperatures, says the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
Since the beginning of the year, over 23,000 people have entered Bosnia and Herzegovina with the intention to move further into the European Union. An estimated 5,300 migrants remain in Bosnia and Herzegovina, most of them gathered near the Croatian border where they are effectively trapped by the terrain and closed border crossings. Some are living in tents, abandoned buildings and makeshift camps that will offer no protection against winter temperatures that can drop as low as -15° Celsius.
Simon Missiri, IFRC Regional Director for Europe said: “Despite the best efforts of aid agencies to provide food and shelter for migrants, living conditions remain poor and the risk of hypothermia is increasing as cold weather sets in. Without humanitarian assistance, it is difficult to see how many people will make it through to spring.”
The Red Cross of Bosnia and Herzegovina distributes food to up to 3,000 people each day, in six reception centres across the country, but their resources are limited. Staff and volunteers are also distributing warm clothes, sleeping bags and blankets to migrants, the overwhelming majority of whom arrive without winter gear.
IFRC and the Red Cross Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina are appealing for 3.3 million Swiss francs to provide food over 9 months, hygiene kits and other items including blankets and sleeping bags over the next 12 months to about 1,000 people at two reception centres.
“We are concerned that, without concerted action, migrants will suffer a completely preventable humanitarian disaster. But if we act now – and the actions that we are talking about are straightforward and easily achieved – we can provide some protection for migrants and their host communities in need. But the clock is ticking,” said IFRC’s Missiri.
Red Cross mobile teams will patrol the area to provide food, blankets and hot drinks, and first aid to migrants in areas outside of the reception centres. The mobile teams will also distribute information on active landmine fields to warn migrants of the dangers of unexploded ordinances. Bosnia and Herzegovina remains the most landmine contaminated country in Europe.
Photos available here.
Sarajevo/Budapest/Geneva, 19 July 2018 – Dozens of people are being treated daily for injuries sustained while attempting to cross from Bosnia and Herzegovina into Croatia, says the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).More than 8,000 people have arrived in Bosnia and Herzegovina since the start of the year – eight times the number who arrived in 2017. This includes 3,000 who have arrived in the past four weeks. Most people are in the country’s north west, close to the border with Croatia, with at least 700 sleeping in a derelict building in Bihac town.In Bihac, first aid teams from the Bosnia and Herzegovina Red Cross are treating up to 70 people per day – many of whom have suffered injuries while attempting to cross the border into Croatia.IFRC spokesperson in Bihac, Nicole Robicheau, said: “The conditions close to the border are grossly inadequate and we’re concerned for people’s safety. Families are sleeping on the ground without any proper shelter, without bedding or blankets - people don’t want to stay here but they are effectively stranded. Each day, people try to move onwards to Croatia but many return with injuries.”Red Cross teams in Bihac are providing support including first aid, food, clothes, and information. But with hundreds of people arriving or transiting through the region each week, local resources have been overwhelmed. In late June, IFRC released 200,000 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to bolster local efforts.“We are seeing a rise in the number of families arriving which is a cause for concern,” said Robicheau. “One woman who arrived this week gave birth on the way here. These conditions are dire for anyone but families with young children are among the most vulnerable.”Last week, IFRC released a report – New Walled Order – identifying a number of factors that prevent vulnerable migrants from accessing the support they need. Such factors range from the overt – including the fear of harassment, arrest or deportation – to the less obvious, which can include prohibitive costs, cultural and linguistic barriers, and a lack of information about their rights.“We are extremely concerned about reports of violence against people trying to make their way into Croatia,” said IFRC’s Regional Director for Europe, Simon Missiri. “Governments have the right to set and enforce migration policies, but they also have the obligation to ensure that all people, regardless of immigration status, are treated with dignity and respect.“A desire to control one’s border does not justify violence.”
Budapest/Geneva, 18 June 2018 – Thousands of people making their way through the Balkans are in desperate need of basic humanitarian services and support, says the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
The number of people entering Europe through Greece and then making their way towards Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina is increasing. More than 5,600 people have reached Bosnia and Herzegovina since the beginning of January, compared with just 754 across the whole of 2017.
In Montenegro, authorities have reported 557 asylum requests May 2018 – the highest monthly figure in five years. The Red Cross of Montenegro has assisted more than 1,000 people since the beginning of the year with food, clothes and medical supplies at reception centres and border crossings.
Simon Missiri, IFRC Regional Director for Europe said: “We are concerned that people are not receiving the assistance they need. People are keen to keep moving and are reluctant to access state services for fear of being detained.
“Red Cross Societies in the Balkans are doing what they can to reach and help people migrating through their territories, but the scale and complexity of this operation is such that more assistance is needed.”
In north-western Bosnia and Herzegovina, about 1,000 people are gathered close to the border with Croatia, trapped by the terrain and closed border crossings. Many are sleeping in the open and do not have access to food, water, hygiene and sanitation.
One hundred Red Cross volunteers are serving hundreds of hot meals a day at an abandoned university campus in the town of Bihac. Volunteers are also distributing sleeping bags, clothes and hygiene kits, and providing medical assistance.
“These people are extremely vulnerable,” said IFRC’s Missiri. “Regardless of their migration status, they, like everyone, should be able to access basic services, and should be protected from harm.”
Bosnia and Herzegovina is the most mine contaminated country in Europe, with land mines covering 2.2 per cent of its territory. Some mine fields are still active in the areas where people are trying to cross the border. To warn people of the danger, Red Cross volunteers are distributing flyers in towns and camps close to the border.