US military to help flood-ravaged Balkans

By JON HARPER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 19, 2014

WASHINGTON — The U.S. military will join an international relief effort in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where floods have wreaked warlike levels of destruction, the Pentagon announced Monday.

One million people in the country — 25 percent of the population — have been cut off from clean water supplies and 500,000 have fled their homes, as record rainfall has pounded the region in recent days. Floods and landslides have killed dozens, and obliterated farms and buildings, according to news reports.

“The physical destruction is not less than the destruction caused by the war,” in the 1990s, Bosnian Foreign Minister Zlatko Lagumdzija told a news conference, according to reports.

From 1992 to 1995, an estimated 100,000 people were killed in the former Yugoslavia as the country disintegrated amid ethnic turmoil.

The Defense Department will provide more than 4,500 relief items, including:

  • Water purification units and water cans.
  • Kitchen equipment.
  • Sand bags and shovels.
  • Cots, sleeping bags, sleeping mats, and blankets.
  • Wet weather gear and clothing.
  • Generators and fuel.

The relief supplies are being shipped from Camp Darby in Livorno, Italy, and are expected to begin arriving in Bosnia and Herzegovina on Tuesday, according to DOD.

Neighboring Serbia has also been hard-hit by the torrential rain, and more than a dozen people there have been killed. Nearly 100,000 have lost power and more than 25,000 have been evacuated, according to reports.

“These are the kind of waters not seen in 1,000 years,” Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said during a televised cabinet meeting, according to news reports.

The U.S. will join Russia, Slovenia, Luxembourg, Britain, Austria, and Macedonia in providing international assistance to the region.

In addition to the weather itself, people in the region are now threatened by displaced or unmarked land mines. Warning signs marking the 9,000 known mine fields in the area were washed away by the floods. There were believed to be about 100,000 land mines buried in the region before the storms hit, according to reports.

Twitter: @JHarperStripes


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