Dubai: The Serbian and Bosnian communities in the UAE have started collecting humanitarian aid — in cash and in kind — for flood victims in their home countries after torrential rain inundated huge parts of the Balkan Peninsula.
The heaviest rain in more than a century has turned major parts of Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia into a virtual waterworld, claiming at least 40 lives and displacing thousands.
The Serbian and Bosnian missions in Abu Dhabi have collaborated with members of the community in Dubai to collect aid to be sent as soon as possible to the flood victims.
Aleksandar Dragicevic, Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the UAE, told Gulf News: “I had a meeting with my compatriots in Dubai for this reason. We have started collecting donations in cash and in kind. We will organise a humanitarian event by next week.”
The Serbian embassy organised an event on Monday night attended by some 400 people. More events are being planned for this week.
“We were able to raise Dh110,000 for the flood victims in one night. And we are continuously receiving money for the victims through a special bank account we opened for this purpose,” Milos Perisic, Serbia’s ambassador to the UAE, told Gulf News.
Perisic said badly needed items according to the Red Crescent are items for personal hygiene, diapers, underwear, blankets, clean clothes, and medicine.
He said companies in the UAE have promised to send help.
Air Serbia, their national carrier, will transport the relief goods to Serbia and Bosnia for free.
“This is not only for Serbia. We are helping our neighbours, our brothers, because they are a small community here. So we’ll try to help,” Perisic said.
The Serbian embassy in Abu Dhabi will serve as a drop-off point for relief goods in the capital as well as the EuroBalkan Shop in Jumeirah Lakes Towers.
“In just two days, some 500 people have come here to give their donations. Our first shipment will be made on Thursday,” Mirko Dimkovski, from Serbia and owner of EuroBalkan Shop, told Gulf News.
Dimkovski said he is fortunate that his family was not affected by the floods. But others weren’t and that is why he stressed the importance of helping them.
“In a short description, what happened was like Armageddon. This has never happened in the living memory of any Serb today,” Dimkovski said.
“It happened at the worst time when our country has just started developing. We need a lot of help.”
Nermina Seric, from Bosnia who has been in Dubai for 17 years, said her relatives in Sarajevo were spared. But she has sent help so they can buy medicine and food for those in need.
“Never in my life have I seen anything like this. In the war, you didn’t know who would kill you. But here, it’s the water [that’s gonna do the job],” Seric, 55, told Gulf News.
Meanwhile, the UN Humanitarian Response Depot (UNHRD) in Dubai is sending high-energy biscuits to meet immediate food needs of the flood victims. They will be sent in two batches, 750kg at first and 75 tonnes second, enough for more than 227,000 people for one day.
UNHRD will also send Inter-agency Emergency Health Kits and Emergency Water Kits on behalf of the World Health Organisation.