New York

9 June 2014

Deputy Secretary-General's remarks at Event on Consequences of Disastrous Floods and Presentation of Needs Assessment for the Affected Regions in Bosnia and Herzegovina [as prepared for delivery]

On behalf of the Secretary-General, I again express our sincere condolences to the victims of the unprecedented, devastating recent floods in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Croatia.

We were shocked by the scale of this disaster and the level of destruction caused by the worst floods the region has witnessed in 120 years.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina many people lost their lives, around 40,000 were evacuated.  Tens of thousands of homes were destroyed or damaged.  So was critical infrastructure. Water supplies, sanitation and sewage systems were contaminated with serious health hazards.  The threat posed by dislodged landmines is another terrible consequence of the floods.

The Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina has ably led the response supported by nearly 40 countries and organizations, with assets from 25 countries present on the ground.

From the outset, the UN has been working closely with the Bosnian authorities, the World Bank, bilateral donors and the EU.

We are coordinating the international response while addressing the disaster’s immediate effects and promoting recovery together with other partners.

The UN has contributed approximately $5.5 million to the humanitarian response and recovery, including in aid shipments, equipment and supplies as well as technical expertise. 

From the Central Emergency Response Fund, $2 million has been allocated for projects aimed at removing debris, clearing mines and other urgent needs, including water, sanitation and hygiene.

The next 60 days are critical to address the recovery and to place the country on a path to normalcy. 

The UN is working with partners to produce a comprehensive recovery assessment by 18 June.  Solid evidence and analysis is essential to ensure that assistance responds to the needs and priorities on the ground.

Too many people in your country as well as others in the region face a difficult new reality and a long path to recovery. 

We cannot remove their pain.  But we will continue to support all recovery efforts.  We want our solidarity to be substantial and visible to your people. 

While the impact of the floods has been truly devastating, we were heartened to see the outpouring of assistance and the sense of unity among the citizens and the authorities in the midst of crisis and trials for your Country.

I commend them for demonstrating a high level of solidarity by coming together – irrespective of political and ethnic affiliations – and jointly working on the humanitarian, life-saving and relief response.

I was impressed by the same sense of solidarity demonstrated by the three countries hit by the floods.

This willingness to lend a hand to a neighbour in the midst of hardship sends a strong signal that the Western Balkans region is on a solid path to recovery and to a peaceful, prosperous and stable common future.

I hope that the people and the countries of the region take this opportunity to further build on their centuries-old ties.

Globally, natural disasters are becoming more intense and more frequent.  Disaster risk reduction is a life-saving necessity for every country and region in today’s world of changing weather patterns..

In this context, we must enhance our ability to work together to prevent and more effectively manage theworst impact of natural disasters and strengthen our resilience towards a safer world.

Thank you.