Richard Harrington – 2014 Parliamentary Question to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Richard Harrington on 2014-06-04.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to support people affected by recent flooding in the Balkans

Mr David Lidington

I discussed the impact of the floods with Prime Minister Vucic of Serbia in Belgrade on 2 June and with Prime Minister Bevanda in Sarajevo on 3 June. During my visit to the region I also met the Serbian Red Cross and travelled to Maglaj in Bosnia-Herzegovina to meet the Mayor and representatives of World Vision.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), between 18 and 23 May a thirty-three person water rescue team from the British Fire Service was deployed to work alongside EUFOR Operation Althea and local rescue efforts. They rescued nearly 200 people, delivered large amounts of humanitarian aid, and helped restore power in villages North of Bijeljina.

In Serbia, the UK provided 64 radios for the Serbian Ministry of the Interior, to assist with the coordination of their response teams; and donated £280,000 worth of heavy lift and transport vehicles to the Serbian Red Cross to aid their relief distribution effort.

A team from the UK flew out to Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in the week commencing 20 May to assess likely humanitarian and recovery needs. During my visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina I was able to announce that the UK had approved £250,000 to support a World Vision flood response project in the region focussing on sanitation and health and providing support for 140,000 people made homeless by the floods.

In addition to this bilateral support, the UK provided support to BiH, Serbia and Croatia through the EU, UN and other international organisations. In BiH, EUFOR Operation Althea, to which the UK contributes troops in-theatre and in reserve, assisted the BiH Armed Forces in their response to the flooding. The First Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland, who provide part of EUFOR’s intermediate reserve, and are in BiH for a routine operational rehearsal, will assist the BiH Armed Forces in this regard.

The UK has worked closely with the EU European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO), and offered advice and assistance during all phases of the flood response effort. ECHO have released €3.2m in humanitarian aid to support the most vulnerable population in BiH and in Serbia (to which the UK will have contributed 15%).

The Government will work closely with the UNDP, the EU and other international organisations to assess what further help might be given to help both Serbia and Bosnia Herzegovina recover from the impact of the floods.