New project assesses mine risks in Croatia after the catastrophic floodsJul 29, 2014
Devastating floods that struck Croatia in May 2014 submerged entire villages and affected 15,000 people. After the floodwater withdrew, devastation remained. Lives were lost, livestock was lost, homes and properties were destroyed and now swarms of mosquitoes are a part of everyday life for the people from the flooded areas. On top of that, there was the risk of landmines and other unexploded remnants of war potentially migrating due to the extreme flooding.
The Croatian Mine Action Centre (CROMAC) identified a total of 2.244,957 square meters of mine suspected hazardous area in the municipalities of Gunja, Vrbanja and Nijemci (Vukovar -Sirmium County) that were hit by the floods. There was a justified fear that the mine warning signs were destroyed or washed away, or that an even larger area than originally presumed is now infested with mines.
Deeply concerned by this situation, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Croatia started a new project called “Immediate response to the 2014 floods in Croatia“ to develop a needs assessment for the flooded suspected hazardous areas, and recommend immediate, medium and long-term recovery strategies to aid the safe return of people affected by the floods and the reduce the impact of future flooding in known mined areas.
In the early phase of the project, UNDP conducted an assessment mission with Croatian partners to determine the need for immediate re-surveying, mine marking and gathering of mine risk information as well as the medium and longer term steps required for recovery.
“We want to highlight the need to survey and clear the flooded minefields to ensure they pose no impediment to the safe return of the affected people after the terrible disaster they have suffered. Until they have been cleared, mines will always remain a danger, and in cases of disasters like these further complicate an already difficult situation,” says Belinda Goslin, UNDP’s consultant on mine action/disaster risk reduction.
In line with the international humanitarian appeal issued by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, UNDP Croatia has also ceded a car for this project. The car will assist in spraying swarms of mosquitoes that hinder the work of numerous volunteers and construction workers.
The project “Immediate response to the 2014 floods in Croatia” is carried out in partnership with the Government Office of Mine Action, the Croatian Mine Action Centre (CROMAC), the National Protection and Rescue Directorate and Vukovar-Sirmium Country, and it will be implemented until May 2015.