Balkan floods – an example of the importance of disaster preparedness

2 million people affected

0.5 million people displaced

100 000 destroyed homes

230 destroyed schools1




The Balkans is enduring the worst floods since 120 years ago. More than 50 people have died, and the number of deaths monitored is expected to increase when the flood waters recede. Even though the intense rainfall stopped, the disaster is far from over. Experts prong that it will take one more week before water all the water is withdrawn, and before that no one can estimate the degree of the hazards effects.But the negative effects are already horrendous. In addition to the direct deaths and wounded, the health of civilians is endangered by lack of clean water and sanitation. Dead animals are emerging when the water levelsdecrease. Due to the affected countries lack of proper facilities of handling animal corps there is a raising incidence of communicable diseases and a fear of epidemics. Lack of epidemiologists and disaster specialist is evident and disables proper disinfection of houses and facilities.The situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is being even more exacerbated due to lodging of several dozens minefields, being left from the Civil war in Balkan, ending in 1995.

There is now two weeks since the floods, and dozens of villages are still abandoned and covered in mud. This is the result of lack of preparedness, limited financial resources, late response by the governments, and poor coordination and communication between all the stakeholders in all levels of response. The hope is found in local civil society respond. Rafting, rowing and other sports clubs borrow their boats and equipment. Local NGOs provide support and facilitate communication between cities and villages. Students and unemployed citizens mobilized strength and resources to help the ones in need.

The recovery from the disaster is going to be hard and long for most of the population. The effects on development are extensive. The countries were already vulnerable with unemployment rates close to 44 percent. Property insurance is a rarity so most people will have to find their own way to rebuild houses again, for the second time after the war in Balkan countries.



The IFMSA National Member Organizations BoHeMSA, SaMSIC, IFMSA Serbia and CroMSIC, with help from their universities, have taken an active role in the emergency response from the first day. They have been filling the gaps of the government respond with their humanitarian dedication. There is a lack of medic doctors in order to meet the needs, so our members are working alongside doctors in the damaged cities and villages. They work day and night providing medical aid and psychological support in shelters.IFMSA Serbia members from Belgrade have partnered with the Dean of Medical School in Belgrade University and the City of Belgrade Health Department. The students are provided with an office from which they cordite a comprehensive humanitarian respond. Similar activitiesare taking place in Croatia, and Bosnia. Medical sstudents from BoHeMSA and CroMSIC have in addition to national activities joined their forces and are working together in medical aid teams within shelters.


In non-affected cities the students mobilize. They fundraise and advocate for improved humanitarian respond and recovery.

Furthermore, the collection of food, water, hygiene products, clothes and medications has been organized and coordinated in all NMOs and is delivered to mostly rural affected areas.

Zupanja, 18.05.2014 - Pogled iz zraka na katastrofalne i nezapamcene poplave na podrucju istocne Slavonije



The first phase of respond is over and the shock amongst affected people is replaced with the need to face the reality. The repair of houses has to start. The farmers have to go back to the countryside and face their destroyed farms, it will take them years to repair it all and this have impacts on not just their individualbut also the states’ financial status.


The three IFMSA National Member Organisation affected by the flood – BoHeMSA, SaMSIC, IFMSA Serbia andCroMSIC- have joined together. We are overwhelmed by the loss and objected people, we call for help. We invite you to join this urgent appeal of assistance to the Balkan countries. We ask you as a humanitarian and future doctor to spread this call for humanity, this appeal of helping people suffering. Let us fulfill our future oath as medical professionals and let us be humanitarian.


If you want to donate, you can do so through the national Red Cross Societies:


Bosnia and Herzegovina

Red Cross Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Red Cross of Republic of Srpska



Red Cross of Serbia



Croatian Red Cross



Ljiljana Lukic (CroMSIC Croatia)



With the support of Ivana Stojanovic CroMSIC president, Mladen Jovanovic IFMSA Serbia president, Amir Meholjic BoHeMSA president and Tamara Pusic SaMSIC-Republic of Srpska president





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