130,000 euros raised for repairs and relief in south-east Europe

Friedhelm Loh Group employees, and CEO Friedhelm Loh himself, have donated some 130,000 euros for victims of the floods in south-east Europe. The funds will be used to repair the damage and relieve the suffering caused by torrential rain in Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina in May. The money will be divided between six international aid organisations.

In response to the devastation caused by the floods in south-east Europe, the Friedhelm Loh Group launched an initiative to collect donations. A total of some 130,000 euros was raised, and given to aid organisations Caritas International, the German Red Cross, Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe, Help – Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe, Humedica and World Vision. The money will fund the distribution of food, drinking water, the deployment of water pumps and drying equipment, and other aids and resources.

“On behalf of the recipients, I’d like to thank the staff for their generous donations. It’s encouraging to see, and it again clearly demonstrates that we’re an organisation willing to act as a community, and not only to assume responsibility for ourselves, but also for others,” stated CEO Friedhelm Loh.

Support for several aid projects

On receiving 30,000 euros, Michael Frischmuth, responsible for Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe’s work in Europe, said “We’d like to thank Rittal very much for their contribution. We used the funds to ship drying equipment originally deployed during the 2013 floods in Germany to the countries affected in south-east Europe. This equipment will accelerate the process of making flood-damaged houses habitable again.”

Record-breaking bad weather

Torrential downpours in the Balkans this May led to the worst flooding since records began. Large swathes of south-east Europe were under water. Whole cities and villages were cut off from the outside world and many people were forced to abandon their homes. The Balkan floods impacted a total of 1.3 million people. Thousands were evacuated, and 50 lost their lives.

The scale of the damage only became apparent once the floodwaters had receded. In many regions, the ground has been contaminated by toxins, vehicle fuel and sewage. The cost of the damage has been tentatively put at more than a billion euros in Serbia and hundreds of millions in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In Croatia, the cost to the agricultural industry alone is thought to exceed 30 million euros. Many people have not only lost their homes, but also their livestock, and as result, their livelihoods.

How donations are used in practice

Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe is focusing its efforts in Serbia on the areas affected by floods in the centre and west of the country. In Bosnia-Herzegovina, aid is concentrated on the north. The very first action taken by Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe was to ship 280 dryers to disaster areas for distribution to local partners who employ them to make buildings habitable. Currently, a further shipment of more than 200 dryers is on its way to Serbia, where it is expected to arrive in mid-August. The local population is also being provided with food, hygiene packages and water pumps.

Farmers have not only suffered from damage inflicted directly by the floods; they are also not permitted to sell their remaining crops. Many livelihoods are therefore at risk. The Galonic family in Serbia operate a cattle breeding business. Miraculously, 30 of their livestock survived, but their feed was swept away by the floodwaters. Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe, in cooperation with local aid organisations, has provided them with new feed and fast-growing seed. As Mr Galonic himself explains: “The floods destroyed many buildings on our farm, including the cowshed. Our cows survived, as they were able to escape the shed of their own accord. But we were not in a position to feed them. Thanks to the aid we received from Germany, we have been able to carry on. Our cattle will not starve to death, and we will not lose our livelihoods.”

Other aid agencies also remain active in the region, helping the victims to rebuild their lives. They provide psychological counselling, legal advice, and assist with reconstruction work. The donations received from Germany play a key role in making this support possible.

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