UN experts finalize assessment of floods in Serbia

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30 May 2014 - After ten days of field work, the UN Team of Experts that came to the country upon a request of the Serbian Government has finalized the assessment of the impacts of one of the most serious natural disasters that struck Serbia in the last 120 years.

The expert report will be handed over to the government of Serbia and will be an important element in the preparations for a Donor Conference, which the French government will be hosting in Paris to coordinate the response of the International Community to the recent floods in the Balkans.

51 lost their lives in Serbia in the deluge that hit Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia in mid-May and 4 are still missing. 30,000 have been forced from their homes. The floods and landslides damaged thousands of homes and caused severe damages to infrastructure and farm land.

Mr. Aleksandar Vučić, the Prime Minister of Serbia, extended his gratitude to the UN Secretary-General for the "invaluable assistance of the UN Country Team in Serbia" in a speech to the UN Economic and Social Council: "Preparations are under way for a pledging conference in which we trust the UN will have a leading role".

"The United Nations is looking forward to working with the Government of Serbia in preparation of the Donor Conference," says Ms. Irena Vojackova-Sollorano, the UN Resident Coordinator in Serbia.

The UN Team of Experts , which was deployed for the first time of history of Serbia, arrived in the country within 36 hours’ time. The so –called United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) is on stand by to respond imminently when a member country is struck by a large natural disaster and needs urgent assistance.

 DSC6847The UN Resident Coordinator in Serbia joined the expert team in their last visit to the areas hit by floods and landslides in Bajina Bašta.

"Being in the field assessments with the UN team of experts, I was able to see the magnitude of the damages caused by devastating floods," says Ms. Vojáčková-Sollorano.

"The country is facing great challenges and a period of total recovery of the flooded will not be an easy one. However, it is important that the Government and citizens know that they are not left alone."

The team has been working closely, on a daily basis, with the Serbian Ministry of the Interior and the European Union Civil Protection Team. The UN team operating in Serbia consists of experts with long-term experience in the field of assessing the impacts of natural disasters occurring in all parts of the world. Their task is, after providing a comprehensive assessment of impacts, to define the priorities of the recovery, remediation of the consequences of floods, environmental protection, restoration of roads and future risk reduction.

"Beside the humanitarian aid and global expertise we deployed, the United Nations country team will continue to cooperate with the EU and World Bank in supporting authorities in their recovery efforts as a response to floods, whereas we will continue to coordinate international assistance," says the UN Resident Coordinator, Vojáčková-Sollorano.

The humanitarian crisis is over and the focus is turning to the necessary reconstruction efforts. The UN contributed to humanitarian aid by airlifting water tanks, generators, water purification systems, 10 boats, as well as High Energy Biscuits, ready-to-eat food to help the displaced people in the affected areas.