Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sebastian Kurz visited Serbia on 8th of October, accompanied by other important members of the Austrian delegation like: Rev. Michael Landau, president of Caritas Austria, which was one of the first national Caritas who supported Caritas Serbia in providing assistance to the flooded population, chief editor of the Journal Kurier, which started a fundraising campaign in Austria, president of Raiffeisen bank Austria, which gave a great financial support to the flood relief activities, representatives of the Austrian Red Cross and others.
In the morning hours members of the delegation, headed by Minister of Foreign Affairs, met with the Serbian prime minister Aleksandar Vucic, who thanked Austria as a State and her institutions, banks and humanitarian organisations, who helped Serbia after the floods, underlining in a special way the aid given through Caritas.
In the afternoon Minister Kurz and other members of the delegation visited two families in the village Mrdjenovac, who are beneficiaries of the aid that Caritas Sabac is giving. The members of the delegation were joined by the Belgrade Archbishop and president of Caritas Serbia Msgr. Stanislav Hocevar, the Mayor of the city of Sabac Nebojsa Zelenovic, the director of Caritas Sabac Miroljub Nikolic and other representatives of Caritas. Minister Kurz and other members of the delegation first visited Predrag and Cveta Mojić, two eighty year old person, who live alone and who are beneficiaries of the home care service provided by Caritas Sabac. In this occasion Predrag Mojic thanked the organizers of this humanitarian action, expressing the desire to have more of the activities like this, in which nurses visit the households like their, giving them health assistance and helping them in daily activities. Mr. Predrag Mojic told to the members of the delegation how was it like during the floods in this village and showed them their garden, which was flooded, so they can’t grow their own vegetables, which they did so far for their own needs.
After that the members of the delegation visited Zarko Kovacevic, who house and back yard were also flooded. He said they manage to save a part of their cattle, but they couldn’t save their house inventory. This family is involved in Caritas rehabilitation project, which is why they received construction material to fix their house.
«The water destroyed everything in 15 minutes. We are farmers, everything disappeared in a second, the water flooded our back yard and our house, so we had to leave our home and move to our friends house. We couldn’t enter our back yard for twenty days, because the water drained slowly. Just four days ago we started fixing our house, when we received help from Caritas in construction material. We couldn’t do anything by ourselves, we have a monthly income of 84 euros of pension my mother receives» – said Kovacevic.
Mister Kovacevic expressed his gratitude to all of those who offered assistance and then showed his home to the members of the delegation, where the reconstruction works are in progress.
After these visits Minister Kurz gave his statement to the present journalists:
«Austria was following with a great care what has happened during the floods in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia and it has decided not only to help, but to help immediately and quickly. Here we didn’t only put at the disposal the means from the fund intended for the foreign disaster assistance, but there was also a great network of people who were working with the same goal, like Austrian companies, like Raiffeisen, than Austrian NGOs, here we have Caritas and the Red cross and other than that big media companies, like Kurier, which immediately started the campaign of collecting the aid. Considering the great closeness and connection of Austria and Serbia and considering the fact that in Austria lives around 160.000 people who have Serbian origins there was obviously a great level of support and a great level of readiness to give the donations. It’s nice that today we can see on the spot that this means and donations were used well», said Minister Kurz.
Rev. Michael Landau, the president of Caritas Austria, also spoke to the present journalists:
«A great thanks for receiving us on the spot, so we can see how this collaboration functioned, but I must express also a great gratitude to the authorities who reacted on the spot, to you Mayor and to all the region, because from numerous conversations I know how this collaboration functioned in a good and efficient way and how the aid was directed where is needed, so a great thank you for that.»
The Mayor of Sabac Nebojsa Zelenovic also spoke to the present journalists:
«As a Mayor of Sabac I would like to thank for all the assistance the Austrian state with Caritas gave to the city of Sabac for the flood assistance. Considering the fact that the State aid couldn’t cover all the people who were flooded, the city of Sabac did everything it could so that the aid would arrive if not with the governmental assistance than through the assistance of the NGO-s. Our idea was to make a system which would be fair and which would permit the donors that the aid arrives to who realy needs it. I have to thank especially the director of Caritas Sabac Miroljub Nikolic, with who we have a very important and great collaboration, which I want to extend. Based on the experience which Caritas has in whole Europe I’m interested in all the services of social assistance, whether they are gerontology nurses, home assistance, home care, all that can in any way increase the level of social assistance. I would like to highlight especially the dedication of the people who work in Caritas Sabac, the care for the people, cause it is one thing to receive only material and financial assistance and it is another thing a nice word, a nice gesture and assistance, which money can’t buy».
In the end the director of Caritas Sabac Miroljub Nikolic also gave his statement to the present journalists:
«First of all I would like to thank the representatives of the media, cause most of you were present from the beginning of the floods and followed the activities not only of Caritas, but also of other organisations and that has, as you can see, brought to the fact that we didn’t only make a network of the NGO-s, organisations of the civil society, but other, much bigger organisations. Immediately when the floods started Caritas Sabac reacted and we found a support of our partner from all the Caritas network, especially Caritas Austria. On the 23th of May the secretary general of Caritas Austria already came to visit Sabac and provided for a great amount of support to arrive directly through Caritas Austria. Just in the first seven days, from 16th to 23th of May Caritas has prepared and distributed over 10.310 dry meals to people who were evacuated, as also to the volunteers on the river dikes. After that Caritas Austria supported the emergency appeal project, which involved help in food and hygiene packages for 1465 families from Sabac area, which were affected by the floods and 72,5 tons of animal feed. After that Caritas Austria approved the rehabilitation project and today we saw one of the examples and that construction material will be provided for 130 families from this area. Also, thanks to the international Caritas network our home care service was also supported, so our nurses give assistance to the elderly and disabled in the flooded area».