Their Royal Highnesses Crown Prince Alexander and Crown Princess Katherine, His Excellency Mihailo Papazoglu, distinguished members and guests of the Serbian community, organizers of the Lifeline Humanitarian Organization of Canada, and friends.
I want to thank the organizers who brought us together for this important event to raise funds for children who are now homeless due to tragic flooding in Serbia.
On behalf of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and Christian Paradis, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, we also offer our deepest sympathies to all those who have been affected by the heavy rains, flooding and landslides in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
We are all gathered here to show our support and dedication to help the millions of affected men, women, and children living through the horrific natural disaster in the region.
The torrential rain and flooding that struck the Republic of Serbia on May 15, 2014 was the worst natural disaster in southeastern Europe in more than a century. Initial estimates have indicated that 1.2 million people, including 210,000 children, have been affected by the flooding.
Entire towns and villages are underwater, thousands of hills have crumbled into landslides and tens of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes for safety reasons. Continuous landslides have complicated rescue efforts as houses and cars are being buried, bridges are crumbling, and roads have been rendered impassable.
On May 19, 2014, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies launched an Emergency Disaster Assistance Fund to respond to the massive flooding and landslides. Financial resources and time are required in addressing relief efforts.
Through an ongoing Govenment of Canada-funded project with the Canadian Red Cross, which allows Canada to immediately respond to disasters around the world, the Canadian Red Cross automatically allocated a maximum contribution to these relief operations on behalf of our Government.
We are closely monitoring the situation and are in contact with local authorities and our humanitarian partners.
I am pleased to announce today, on behalf of Prime Minister Harper, and International Development Minister Paradis, the next step that our Conservative Government is taking towards the relief efforts.
Friends, your efforts are making a difference. The community has come together with singular purpose – to help improve the quality of life, safety and health of those families displaced and injured due to the tragedy.
And your efforts are not going unnoticed. Our Prime Minister and all members of our Government recognize your charity, hard work and deep affection to your homeland.
Under our Prime Minister, Canada stands-by and with its friends and allies, especially those affected by disaster.
Today, our Government will continue to live up to that commitment by announcing an additional $800,000 to the relief operations.
Our Government’s contribution will work through humanitarian partners to deliver basic needs, including health, food, and clean water, sanitation, and hygiene requirements, of 32,724 vulnerable families in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Together with the charitable support of individuals like yourself, Canada’s contribution will make a difference.
With this funding, the Red Cross of Serbia will provide assistance by: distributing food and core relief items to 2,400 vulnerable families; providing water, sanitation and hygiene promotion to 10,000 families; helping 10,000 families return to their homes; and, providing early and adequate psychosocial support.
The Red Cross Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina will assist 10,000 flood-affected families by providing: water purification tablets and jerry cans; water, sanitation and hygiene promotion; livelihoods assistance; and, general health awareness, landmines awareness and psycho-social support.
Save the Children Canada will provide assistance to 12,400 flood-affected families in Zenica-Doboj Canton, which will include: distributing essential household kits; providing water and hygiene kits; providing child-friendly spaces where children can play, socialize and express themselves; addressing the needs of infants and pregnant and lactating women in collective centres; and, conducting clean up and refurbishment of school facilities.
Helping those in need is a demonstration of Canadian values. Our government will continue to maintain the ability to respond to humanitarian crisis when needed.
I thank you for your continued support and dedication towards the long-term recovery efforts in Serbia and Bosnia Herzegovina.