Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! CounterPunch is entirely supported by our readers. Your donations pay for our small staff, tiny office, writers, designers, techies, bandwidth and servers. We don’t owe anything to advertisers, foundations, one-percenters or political parties. You are our only safety net. Please make a tax-deductible donation today.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Untold Story of the Floods in Serbia

by

Two kilometers away from the Tamnava River near downtown Obrenovac, Snezana Hasanovic didn’t think the flood waters would reach her neighborhood. During the Yugoslav War in 1992, she fled Sarajevo along with her husband and young son, and never thought she’d have to be an evacuee twice in her life

“On Friday at around 1:30am my parents came knocking at my door telling us to get out of the house immediately. The water was now surrounding the house, when an hour earlier my husband and I were watching news of the flood on TV and it wasn’t near us.”

Little did Hasanovic know, both rivers around Obrenovac burst their banks, the Sava and the Tamnava, and by now the “water was almost up to our knees, it was raining, there was a foul odor, and I simply could not believe that we would be leaving our house without anything once again.”

“We are homeless again,” said Hasanovic, who works at the International School of Belgrade – Serbia’s leading school in English.

The rain has stopped, yet the water is still rising, and the media has only just begun to cover the worst flooding to afflict Serbia and neighboring states in recorded history.

As Serbia sinks further into oblivion in front of an international community selective about the natural disasters they choose to assist, scores of people are dying and thousands are displaced. Hasanovic’s hometown of Obrenovac, a sleepy town not to far from the capital, Belgrade, now resembles an Eastern European version of Venice – minus the pulchritude – as bodies are floating across the streets – err, canals. Ninety percent of the city is under water.

The region’s worst flooding coupled with the fact that Serbia is one of Europe’s poorest countries spells a gloomy conclusion to one of mother nature’s worst disasters so far this year. To make matters worse, the international community slept on the story for more than 3 days before really covering it. In those overlooked three days, 3 months of rainfall plummeted on Serbia and the Bosnian state of Republika Srpska.

Even when news outlets like the BBC or CNN began taking the story ‘seriously’, the only reporting came from meteorologists, whose airtime on the respective channels are both minimal compared to anchors and foreign correspondents. Only after the Serbian tennis champion Novak Djokovic lambasted the two news channels did they pick up their reportages.

Understandably, the biggest democratic election was wrapping up in India, Turkey witnessed its worst mining disaster, and 300 innocent girls were kidnapped by terrorists in Nigeria, so flooding in Serbia – at least on the first day – was behind in the pecking order. After three days of minimal reports (i.e. news tickers), and a mainstream media estimate of 40 dead and 25,000 displaced, the devastating floods clearly did not receive the right publicity.

According to people on the ground, there has been more than the reported amount of deaths and the number of displaced soars well into the hundreds of thousands. The only correct sum being reported is the amount of aid which will be in the range of hundreds of millions if not a billion dollars.

Had a correspondent been sent to the hardest hit places, the correct figures may have been conveyed to the masses, which in turn would have speeded the delivery of foreign aid to Serbia. With the exception of Al-Jazeera Balkans’ extensive coverage, there are only a handful of reporters on the ground, and due to this sad reality more than just a modicum of media integrity is being washed down the drain.

The hurricane in Tacloban received wide media coverage, as did the floods that hit south Britan and Ireland in 2012, so the question beckons, why have the floods in Serbia not been taken seriously by the media?

In the end, it’s political, as always seems to be the case. Instead of highlighting the nation’s plights such as widespread corruption or human trafficking, the mainstream media – in other words Western media – only dwells on the past tribulations of the war that split up Yugoslavia, and only the mistakes of the Serbs. Every few years Serbia is back in the headlines for someone accused of being a war criminal, and the world is reminded of Serbia as the cruelest of nations. Even calling Serbia a nation is comical, because the West – and not with bombs or guns anymore, but with their weapon of choice which is the press – is dismantling Serbia slowly and delicately. First Montenegro. Then Kosovo. Who’s next, Vojvodina or Sandzak?

As a result, the perpetual castigation of Serbia and its people have tarnished the reputation of a country that was pivotal in the Allies victory in WWII. Even Hollywood has jumped on the smear campaign with movies such as ‘The Hunting Party’, which depicts Serbs as cannibals.

Serbs love meat, fair trade, but we prefer swine over homo sapien.

In the end, the media had to step in, on ethical grounds at the very least. Arguably still being underreported, and with more deathly drops of rain scheduled for Thursday, Serbia will only receive two types of publicity: negative publicity or diminutive publicity. Because the spin can’t blame Serbia (Serbs didn’t flood themselves), the type of publicity is clearly the latter. This intentionally shy approach by Western media will forever keep Serbia in the dark, and in the doldrums.

“I lost any sense of time and could not feel anything at all. At one moment I thought that all this could not be happening, it had to be a nightmare,” Hasanovic added, echoing the sentiments of many other Serbs suffering the repercussions of the floods, but also a fair rendition of pre-submerged Serbia.

Ilija M. Trojanovic can be reached at: ilija.trojanovic@gmail.com.

 

 

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 29, 2016
Robert Fisk
The Butcher of Qana: Shimon Peres Was No Peacemaker
James Rose
Politics in the Echo Chamber: How Trump Becomes President
Russell Mokhiber
The Corporate Vice Grip on the Presidential Debates
Daniel Kato
Rethinking the Race over Race: What Clinton Should do Now About ‘Super-Predators’
Peter Certo
Clinton’s Awkward Stumbles on Trade
Fran Shor
Demonizing the Green Party Vote
Rev. William Alberts
Trump’s Road Rage to the White House
Luke O'Brien
Because We Couldn’t Have Sanders, You’ll Get Trump
Michael J. Sainato
How the Payday Loan Industry is Obstructing Reform
Robert Fantina
You Can’t Have War Without Racism
Gregory Barrett
Bad Theater at the United Nations (Starring Kerry, Power, and Obama
James A Haught
The Long, Long Journey to Female Equality
Thomas Knapp
US Military Aid: Thai-ed to Torture
Jack Smith
Must They be Enemies? Russia, Putin and the US
Gilbert Mercier
Clinton vs Trump: Lesser of Two Evils or the Devil You Know
Tom H. Hastings
Manifesting the Worst Old Norms
George Ella Lyon
This Just in From Rancho Politico
September 28, 2016
Eric Draitser
Stop Trump! Stop Clinton!! Stop the Madness (and Let Me Get Off)!
Ted Rall
The Thrilla at Hofstra: How Trump Won the Debate
Robert Fisk
Cliché and Banality at the Debates: Trump and Clinton on the Middle East
Patrick Cockburn
Cracks in the Kingdom: Saudi Arabia Rocked by Financial Strains
Lowell Flanders
Donald Trump, Islamophobia and Immigrants
Shane Burley
Defining the Alt Right and the New American Fascism
Jan Oberg
Ukraine as the Border of NATO Expansion
Ramzy Baroud
Ban Ki-Moon’s Legacy in Palestine: Failure in Words and Deeds
Gareth Porter
How We Could End the Permanent War State
Sam Husseini
Debate Night’s Biggest Lie Was Told by Lester Holt
Laura Carlsen
Ayotzinapa’s Message to the World: Organize!
Binoy Kampmark
The Triumph of Momentum: Re-Electing Jeremy Corbyn
David Macaray
When the Saints Go Marching In
Seth Oelbaum
All Black Lives Will Never Matter for Clinton and Trump
Adam Parsons
Standing in Solidarity for a Humanity Without Borders
Cesar Chelala
The Trump Bubble
September 27, 2016
Louisa Willcox
The Tribal Fight for Nature: From the Grizzly to the Black Snake of the Dakota Pipeline
Paul Street
The Roots are in the System: Charlotte and Beyond
Jeffrey St. Clair
Idiot Winds at Hofstra: Notes on the Not-So-Great Debate
Mark Harris
Clinton, Trump, and the Death of Idealism
Mike Whitney
Putin Ups the Ante: Ceasefire Sabotage Triggers Major Offensive in Aleppo
Anthony DiMaggio
The Debates as Democratic Façade: Voter “Rationality” in American Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Punishing the Punished: the Torments of Chelsea Manning
Paul Buhle
Why “Snowden” is Important (or How Kafka Foresaw the Juggernaut State)
Jack Rasmus
Hillary’s Ghosts
Brian Cloughley
Billions Down the Afghan Drain
Lawrence Davidson
True Believers and the U.S. Election
Matt Peppe
Taking a Knee: Resisting Enforced Patriotism
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail
[i]
[i]
[i]
[i]