Older people trapped in poverty in Bosnia and Herzegovina are receiving foodpacks and essential hygiene items as part of Islamic Relief’s efforts to ease hunger and suffering.

Almost two decades since the end of the war, there is still much hardship in Bosnia and Herzegovina. An exceptionally high unemployment rate and comparatively high living costs – particularly in the cities – keep people trapped in poverty. Older people and disabled individuals are amongst the most vulnerable, with many reliant on small state pensions, living on or below the poverty line and struggling to afford nutritious food and essential hygiene items.

Bečirović Dragija (right) with an Islamic Relief aid worker.

Bečirović Dragija (right) with an Islamic Relief aid worker.

To provide immediate relief from hunger, Islamic Relief introduced an additional project last year to provide vulnerable older people in Sarajevo, Tuzla, and Sanski Most with basic essentials. The scheme has already given parcels packed with food and hygiene items to people able to attend the distribution centre.

Parcels filled with food and hygiene items

The first distribution, which was carried out in cities of Sarajevo, Tuzla and Sanski Most earlier this month, saw parcels delivered to older disabled people at their homes. The parcels were packed with staples such as flour, rice and cooking oil as well as multivitamins, soap and socks.

Bečirović Dragija, 66, was amongst those to benefit. She lives alone in a single room – the laundry room of a building in Sarajevo – and relies on her disability pension. Fighting breast cancer was especially hard for Dragija, with no relatives to take care of her.

Raza Karić, of Sarajevo, has a broken hip.

Raza Karić, of Sarajevo, has a broken hip.

“I thank all of you for your support,” said Dragija when she received her parcel. “This assistance means a lot to me. If the world had more people like you it would be a better place. You do make a difference.”

Raza Karić, 79, also received a helping hand. She lives with her son, her pregnant daughter-in-law and grandchildren in a two-roomed temporary shelter in the capital city’s Old Town.

The family of five struggles to get by on unemployment social assistance, and since Karić fell and broke her hip, times have been tougher than ever.

“I would like to thank Islamic Relief and donors who decided to help elderly people. May God reward you for your efforts,” she said.

When the scheme completes in October, some 330 people will have benefitted. Islamic Relief also provides seasonal food distributions as well as development and emergency relief projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina.