Megan Brandsrud

Roma population

On May 13, 2014, a cyclone hit Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, resulting in widespread, record flooding and landslides. Overall, approximately 1.6 million people were impacted by the cyclone and the flooding and landslides that followed. Last spring, Lutheran Disaster Response worked with Ecumenical Humanitarian Organization to provide immediate relief resources, which included food, personal health and hygiene supplies, disinfection equipment and tools.

The emergency phase of the disaster has passed, but there is still a lot of work to be done, especially with housing. Serbia was hit hardest by the severe weather, with 200 collapsed homes, more than 18,000 damaged homes and approximately 32,000 people who had to evacuate.

The Roma settlement in Mišar, City of Šabac, in western Serbia was greatly affected by the floods. There are approximately 500,000 people who make up the Roma population in Serbia, and they generally live in worse conditions than the rest of the population due to discrimination, employment exclusion and poverty. The poor living conditions mean that these people are more vulnerable to larger damages caused by disasters.

Lutheran Disaster Response is again working with Ecumenical Humanitarian Organization to assist in rehabilitating homes and improving livelihoods for Roma families in Mišar that were affected by the floods.

Home rehabilitation assistance will be owner-driven, so primary resources provided will be technical support and tools and construction materials. Assistance to revive and increase livelihood opportunities will consist of assessing the current situation, identifying self-employment opportunities, creating documentation for start-up grants and building capacity through business plans for income-generating projects.

Special attention will also be given to mobilizing resources and raising awareness around disaster-risk reduction and resiliency.

We will continue to accompany our brothers and sisters in Serbia who are still dealing with the after-math of last year’s flooding. If you would like to support Lutheran Disaster Response’s work in Serbia, please visit the giving page.