Balkans

Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written question – answered on 11th June 2014.

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Photo of Angus Robertson Angus Robertson Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Defence), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Office), Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what aid the Government have provided for the relief of flooding and landslides in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia.

Photo of David Lidington David Lidington The Minister for Europe

I discussed the impact of the floods with Prime Minister Vucic of Serbia in Belgrade on 2 June and with Prime Minister Bevanda in Sarajevo on 3 June. During my visit to the region I also met the Serbian Red Cross and travelled to Maglaj in Bosnia and Herzegovina to meet the mayor and representatives of World Vision.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), between 18 and 23 May a 33-person water rescue team from the British Fire Service was deployed to work alongside EUFOR Operation Althea and local rescue efforts. They rescued nearly 200 people, delivered large amounts of humanitarian aid, and helped restore power in villages north of Bijeljina.

In Serbia, the UK provided 64 radios for the Serbian Ministry of the Interior, to assist with the co-ordination of its response teams; and donated £280,000 worth of heavy lift and transport vehicles to the Serbian Red Cross to aid its relief distribution effort.

A team from the UK flew out to Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in the week commencing 20 May to assess likely humanitarian and recovery needs. During my visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina I was able to announce that the UK had approved £250,000 to support a World Vision flood response project in the region, focussing on sanitation and health and providing support for 140,000 people made homeless by the floods.

In addition to this bilateral support, the UK provided support to BiH, Serbia and Croatia through the EU, UN and other international organisations. In BiH, EUFOR Operation Althea, to which the UK contributes troops in theatre and in reserve, assisted the BiH armed forces in their response to the flooding. The First Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Scotland, which provides part of EUFOR's intermediate reserve, and is in BiH for a routine operational rehearsal, will assist the BiH armed forces in this regard.

The UK has worked closely with the EU European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO), and offered advice and assistance during all phases of the flood response effort. ECHO has released €3.2 million in humanitarian aid to support the most vulnerable population in BiH and in Serbia (to which the UK will have contributed 15%).

The Government will work closely with the UNDP, the EU and other international organisations to assess what further help might be given to help both Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina recover from the impact of the floods.

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