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Bosnia flood destruction 'as bad as the war'

Bosnia flood destruction 'as bad as the war'
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The government in Bosnia says more than 1 million people, or a quarter of the population, has been affected by flooding and landslides, comparing the destruction to that of the country’s war in the 1990s.

Some reports speak of around 50 deaths in Bosnia and in neighbouring Serbia and Croatia amid the worst rainfall to hit the Balkans in living memory.

Having survived the war and built a new life, many have lost everything.

“After the war, I found my furniture. I repaired it and I was able to use it again – my sofa and my cupboard – there were holes in it but I could use it,” said one elderly woman, Hatidza Muhic, who returned to her home in the town of Maglaj after the conflict.

“But now I don’t have a cupboard anymore. Go in and see for yourself. We don’t have a cupboard or a bed. There’s nothing left.”

Bitter enemies during the conflict, Bosnia-Hercegovina’s different ethnic communities have come together to face this natural disaster. But even the strongest solidarity can’t replace what has been lost.

“In two days, everything was destroyed that we had managed to rebuild since we returned,” said Nevenka Djuric, an elderly woman in Crno Blato, near the northern town of Tuzla.

“They say, go from here but where can we go now? We’ll put you up in Dubrave, they say. But we have cattle. What can we do with them? We make our living from them.”

As the clean-up reveals the full extent of the damage, another relic from the war presents a very real threat.

Warning signs around Bosnia’s many unexploded landmines have been toppled and, in places, the devices themselves have been unearthed.