Mehdi Ben Mrad in Bosnia

Islamic Relief aid worker Mehdi Ben Mrad reports on his visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina, where communities are still reeling from a series of devastating flooding and landslides. The disaster began in May, and affected about 1.5 million people.

On the ground in Bosnia, the magnitude of the damage caused really hits home. The scale is massive, and – as ever – it is the most vulnerable people that are suffering the most. As the floodwaters recede, affected people urgently need help to repair and rebuild their homes, livelihoods, and communities.

Families have lost everything, once more, to disaster

During my visit, I met with the Minister for Refugees and Displaced People. At our Sarajevo office, Mr Osmanovic outlined the extent of the impact upon the people of this country. For those who lost everything in the Bosnian War, the impact is psychological as well as physical. Less than 20 years since the end of the conflict, many vulnerable people are once more facing the major challenge of reclaiming their lives from disaster.

Amongst the families that the team has met with in the aftermath of the disaster, one sticks in my mind as a poignant symbol of the suffering in this country. Close to Sarajevo lives a man who was a prisoner of war during the conflict of the 90s. Since the war ended, he and his wife have painstakingly rebuilt their lives. But in May, they lost everything once more when a landslide hit their home and their workshop.

A house and workshop destroyed by a landslide in Bosnia

A home and workshop destroyed by a landslide

The challenges and needs are also acute in the Republika Srpska, to the north of the country. In the city of Vukosavlje, about 8,000 Bosniaks who had returned home after the war and slowly rebuilt their lives have been hit heavily by the floods. Many houses were damaged and the city’s water system was destroyed.

In Janja town, most of the population rely on agriculture for their income. The floodwaters destroyed swathes of cropland, killed livestock and damaged essential equipment – ripping the heart out of the rural community. The people of Janja do not want to rely on food parcels: they need seeds. If they can begin sowing in the next couple of weeks, this will be a huge step forward in restoring their livelihoods, and getting back to normal.

These are just a handful of examples of the challenges facing the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as they begin once more to rebuild their lives and communities. Islamic Relief has been helping the most vulnerable communities here for more than 20 years. In the aftermath of this latest disaster, we have already delivered emergency aid worth over £256,000 GBP, reaching vulnerable families in eleven areas.

With your support, Islamic Relief can reach many more – and we can use our expertise and experience to enable affected families to recover from this disaster.  Please donate to our Bosnia Emergency Appeal today.