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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 20 May 2014

EU steps up assistance for flood victims in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina as Commissioner Georgieva visits the region

The number of Member States which have offered assistance to Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina has risen to nineteen in response to record-breaking floods which have caused widespread devastation. The European Commission is coordinating EU assistance, co-financing transportation costs and producing satellite imagery of the affected areas.

"The European Union has been scaling up its assistance continuously and supporting both countries during the peak of the emergency phase. Offers for assistance by Member States keep coming in and I am extremely grateful for this expression of European solidarity", said Kristalina Georgieva, the European Union Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response. She has arrived in Belgrade where she will meet with the government, civil protection authorities and some of the 200 European rescuers who are now working around the clock.

"Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina will also need help to reconstruct damaged infrastructure and restore public services as well as to get people back into their homes. In this next phase of the relief effort we will also be there with them," Commissioner Georgieva added.

12 EU civil protection experts are on the ground – eight in Serbia and four in Bosnia and Herzegovina - coordinating the incoming European assistance and supporting local authorities. An EU humanitarian aid expert has also been deployed to Serbia to support the assessment of humanitarian needs on the ground. In total, close to 400 relief workers from the Member States deployed through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism are operating in Serbia and in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Among other things, they are helping ensure the continuity of key power stations in Serbia.

After her visit to Serbia, the Commissioner will also travel to Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia.

Background

Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina are seeing the worst floods in more than a century. The two countries requested assistance through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. Serbia asked for high capacity water pumps and teams operating them, boats and rescue helicopters, while Bosnia and Herzegovina requested helicopters and motor boats to evacuate people and to transport water, medicines and food. Additionally, Bosnia and Herzegovina sent a request for pumps, generators, tents, humidity dryers, water purification sets, gas heaters for tents, and sanitation items.

The Commission's Emergency Response Coordination Centre has been coordinating the provision of European assistance offered by 19 Member States. Bulgaria, Germany, Slovenia, Austria, the Czech Republic, France, Croatia, Slovakia, Denmark, Italy, Romania and Poland have offered rescue boats, high capacity pumps and operational teams to Serbia. Austria, Slovenia, Luxembourg, the UK, Belgium, Germany, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Hungary, Romania and Poland responded to the request of Bosnia & Herzegovina for rescue and evacuation helicopters, motor boats, generators, sandbags, tents, blankets and humanitarian aid kits.

The EU Civil Protection Mechanism

The European Union Civil Protection Mechanism facilitates co-operation in disaster response, preparedness, and prevention among 28 EU Member States, plus the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Iceland and Norway. With the help of the Commission, the participating countries pool the resources that can be made available to disaster-stricken countries all over the world. When activated, the Mechanism coordinates the provision of assistance.

The European Commission manages the Mechanism through the Emergency Response Coordination Centre. Operating 24/7, the ERCC monitors risks and emergencies around the world and serves as an information and coordination hub during emergencies. Among other tasks, the ERCC also ensures that Member States are fully aware of the situation on-site and can make informed decisions for providing financial and in-kind assistance.

For more information

The European Commission's humanitarian aid and civil protection:

http://ec.europa.eu/echo/index_en.htm

Commissioner Georgieva's website:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/georgieva/index_en.htm

Emergency Response Coordination Centre:

http://ec.europa.eu/echo/files/aid/countries/factsheets/thematic/ERC_en.pdf

Europe by Satellite:

http://ec.europa.eu/avservices/ebs/schedule.cfm

Contacts :

David Sharrock (+32 2 296 89 09)

Irina Novakova (+32 2 295 75 17)

For the public: Europe Direct by phone 00 800 6 7 8 9 10 11 or by e-mail


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