Grief and Sorrow in the Balkans

The disastrous floods in Bosnia-Hercegovina, Croatia, and Serbia are causing incredible devastations, and the long-term implications are only hardly assessable.

Dozens of people lost their lives in the flooded areas of Bosnia-Hercegovina, Croatia, and Serbia. Ten thousands of people had to be evacuated and lost all their belongings. The immediate damages are incredible, and to assess the medium to long-term implications on the countries, which are economically shaken anyhow, is even less possible. State relief forces and civil volunteers are working around the clock in order to help the mostly affected people and to try to avoid further floods by working on the dams alongside the rivers, which carry enormous quantities of water.

The geographical focus of the floods in Serbia is on the south west of the country (in the south of the river Sava), while the 14 United Methodist congregations are north of Belgrade. Therefore, according to Superintendent Ana Palik-Kunčak, no damages of United Methodist property are known – except for rainwater, which got in buildings here and there. However, there is still a widespread concern among the people of the United Methodist congregations in Serbia. Ana Palik-Kunčak: «The whole situation with these floods is very painful. But there are strong bonds among the people in Serbia, and there is a remarkable unity and solidarity. Everybody does what he/she can.»

In the congregations, people collected clothes, which were – together with hundreds of water bottles – handed over to the Red Cross. In Šid, close to the border with Croatia, 40 makeshift beds were prepared in case evacuated people need to be accommodated. As far as this is possible, people in the congregations will also help the worst affected people in terms of finances.

Even prior to these floods, many people in Serbia fell on hard times. Now the situation is even worse for many – for those who lost the basis of existence because of this disaster, but in the medium and longtime run probably also for those who have been spared from the floods. For example if – as a result of the destruction of huge agricultural areas – the food prices increase, while the salaries, which are very low anyhow, will be far from going hand in hand with the increase in the prices.

There has been a remarkable international solidarity with the people of the UMC in Serbia in the past – and this solidarity will continue to exist, particularly in difficult times like these, so that, by its witness and service, the United Methodist Church in Serbia can bring faith, love, and hope to the people in this country.

Any donations to the Bishop’s Office in Zurich for those affected by this disaster, whether directly or indirectly, will be used according to their designation.

Source: Office of Bishop Patrick Streiff, Zurich
Date: May 21, 2014