9 August 2023| Ljubljana, Slovenia [Maja Ahac and ADRA Slovenija]
Nine years ago, mother nature flooded the Balkan Peninsula. Hundreds of tonnes of humanitarian aid from Slovenia reached the affected areas. People were immensely grateful for water, food, cleaning products, dryers, and fresh bed linen among other supplies. Yet volunteers and aid workers recognised that people were much more moved by the message, “You are not alone. We are with you.“
Almost a decade later, on the Friday 4 August, 2023, rains caused catastrophic damage in 182 of Slovenia’s 212 municipalities. Firefighters, rescuers and civil protection are still struggling to reach some settlements. Despite the destruction of roads and bridges, domestic and international aid has already reached Slovenia. Aid workers hear similar messages daily: “Thank you so much for helping us. But what means the most is that you are with us. I don’t know what it would have been like if we had been left alone.”
Adventist churches and ADRA Slovenia’s aid workers and volunteers immediately offered help and appealed for international support. On Monday morning 7 August , an ADRA team from Croatia delivered the first dryers, and by the afternoon they were already drying the flooded homes. A larger shipment of dryers from Germany is on its way to Slovenia. ADRA Slovakia and ADRA Czech Republic are also sending teams of experts along with a further supply of dryers to help dry homes and distribute humanitarian aid. ADRA is fundraising in several European countries. The ADRA network recognises the importance of a rapid and effective response in a disaster, with the individual at the centre, regardless of nationality, race, gender, or religion.
Experts agree that reconstruction will be extensive and time-consuming, which makes international support all the more critical. ADRA Slovenia, together with international experts, is currently carrying out the humanitarian response. The medium term to long-term assistance and reconstruction planning is already in progress.
Thomas Petracek (Head of Humanitarian Aid and Development at ADRA Europe) said: “The floods that have hit Slovenia are catastrophic. We need to help the population immediately – but in the best possible way. We have joined forces with our colleagues and collaborators and are in contact with our team on the ground every day, tailoring our response to people’s real needs. At the same time, we are also transferring knowledge and experience to Slovenia, as ADRA responds to floods in Europe almost yearly.”
Slovenians have shown that they care about their fellow human beings in need. People in neighbouring countries and even further afield say, “You are not alone.” Many influential people from politics, business, sports and entertainment have supported Slovenia. The European Commission’s President, Ursula von der Leyen, has also joined the message, visiting some of the hardest–hit places in Slovenia.