Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Questions (67)

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

67. Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if emergency aid has been considered for flood relief in Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23137/14]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Over 50 people are reported to have died and 950 000 people have had to evacuate their homes in the worst floods in Serbia and Bosnia Herzegovina in more than a century. In total, an estimated 1.5 million people have been affected by this flooding disaster in the Western Balkans region. On 15 May, the Governments of both affected states declared a state of emergency and requested assistance through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. In response, the EU has provided rescue boats, high capacity pumps, rescue and evacuation helicopters, generators, sandbags, tents, and blankets, as well as over 400 experienced personnel to assist with the relief efforts.

Through Irish Aid in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ireland is providing €50,000 to the NGO World Vision Ireland to support the relief effort. World Vision, which has been operating in Bosnia since the late 1990s, was one of the first agencies to respond to the flooding in the country, providing much needed items, such as food, water and hygiene kits, water pumps. Our assistance will enable World Vision to continue to support affected communities, in particular through the provision of psychosocial support and counselling services to children affected by the floods. The funding will also be used to purchase vaccines to prevent the outbreak of infectious diseases among animals and any consequent risks to human health.

In addition to this funding, Ireland has donated some 5,000 litre water tanks from Irish Aid stocks pre-positioned in Brindisi, Italy, and has highlighted our willingness to release any further essential relief items that may be required. We are in regular contact with the national authorities of Serbia and BiH through our accredited Embassies, and through our EU counterparts. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and to work at EU level in coordinating an effective response.