Tens of thousands of people have been cut off for days after severe snowfalls that struck Montenegro early in February, paralyzing most of the country. Heavy snow storm left at least three casualties and forced state authorities to declare the state of emergency. The elemental disaster caused shortages in food, energy and fuel supplies for days, especially in remote areas, while roads in the central and Northern part of the country were blocked.
In an unprecedented crisis which mobilized all parts of society, including Government, army, police, health, local authorities, civil and private sector, special services, etc.. the UN System in Montenegro joined efforts with national and international partners to provide help to citizens most affected by the disaster.
Under the leadership of UNHCR, the aid in food and non-food items were distributed to more than 450 families in northern municipalities of Berane, Andrijevica and Plav.
“Aid worth €10,000, provided by UNHCR, UNDP and UNICEF, was distributed jointly with representatives of the Red Cross of Montenegro and Danish Refugee Council (DRC), in cooperation with local Crisis Operations Teams”, said UNHCR protection officer Aleksandar Čađenović.
Besides distribution of aid, UN vehicles and personnel were put at disposal to local Crisis Operations Teams for transport of people from remote areas in Berane, Andrijevica and Plav.
“Distribution of aid in the North is the the latest among UN actions to aimed at helping people who suffered from severe weather conditions. We carefully monitor the situation on the ground, and we are in constant communication with local Crisis Operations Teams. Together with partners, we will continue to work on mitigation of the impact of weather disaster which struck Montenegro”, said Rastislav Vrbensky, UN Resident Coordinator to Montenegro.
Prior to delivering aid to the most vulnerable families in the North of the country, the UN System joined a broad action of distributing aid in the capital Podgorica. Food parcels and non-food items were provided by the Podgorica Municipality, while UN agencies allocated logistics, personnel and vehicles for efficient delivery to the citizens.
“Together with the Red Cross of Montenegro, German NGO HELP and CDC, we have distributed food parcels to 300 families in refugee camps Konik 1 and Konik 2. Also, 55 food parcels were handed over to the Roma NGO “National Roma Council”. In cooperation with the Center for Social Welfare we assisted in distribution of aid to 38 socially vulnerable families in suburban areas, including 17 Roma families”, Jovica Žarić, UNHCR field officer explained. He also added that medical crews attendance in the camp Konik was organized in cooperation with the Primary Health Care Center Podgorica.
UNHCR and the Red Cross of Montenegro also jointly provided nine families with 26 members in the village Brezna near Plužine with beds, blankets, mattresses and small wood stoves. Their building was burned in the fire.