Amila Omersoftić - Maglaj, Bosnia and Herzegovina: "What I experienced one year ago has left serious consequences for me and my family, consequences, which I try not to show, but which I can not escape"
Tell us about your community, regarding climate change and its consequences?
My city was hit by flooding last year as a result of climate change. Many people have lost their homes. Now, a year later, the city seems repaired, but the flood has left an indelible mark on us. Besides that, no one is working on preventive measures against the possible repetition of these disasters.
How well are you informed about climate change? What is your opinion of climate change?
I’m not entirely familiar with this concept, but I know enough to say that is not something favorable (if I can express myself as a layperson). Climate change is a global problem that a small community like my city does not have too much impact on, but we certainly feel its effects, mostly, in terms of heavy rainfall, change in the average annual temperature etc. Apart from the effects on nature, a big part of the consequences are social – the impacts on humans. Due to climate change, the economy and agriculture are suffering, the number of jobs is reduced, many people have lost their homes and are literally in exile and their health has been compromised.
Do you believe that the floods are connected to climate change?
I believe that floods are a direct result of climate change. Since elementary school they have taught us how Earth’s atmosphere can be violated by various gases (Freon, fossil fuels, etc.). Over time the so-called greenhouse effect happens and changes global temperatures, and in that way they are changing other factors including the amount of rainfall.
Can you summarize your background, what happened? How did the situation change until today (situation in your community, floods and afterwards, what have changed?)
The floods that happened in May last year (2014) were caused as a result of an unprecedented amount of rainfall (not even the oldest residents can remember such a large amount of rainfall and such flooding). It was raining most of April last year. Rainfall at the beginning of May calmed down, only to start again, lasting until May 17. The level of the tributaries of the Bosna river went higher, and consequently the level of the main flow of the Bosna River. The Bosna River was so high and strong that in Zavidovići it carried away a pedestrian bridge, which reached Maglaj, before stopping at the wire bridge at the Natron Hayat factory. When the level and power of Bosna river grew so strong that it carried away the afforemementioned wire bridge to Maglaj, a big wave of water came and rapidly flooded the city. I was home with my parents, helpless, as the water kept coming so fast that no one could do anything. Even my parents didn’t believe that the water could rise to this level and at this speed, because the height of the water around my house was 2.5 meters. We were evacuated from our house after about 30 hours, because the water level decreased enough that the boat could safely come to the house. After the evacuation, we were accepted at the refugee reception center in the village Misurići, where we moved after a few days to one apartment where we still live as subtennents. Here again I would like to highlight the importance of the questions that I asked on the video: no one issued an adequate and timely emergency alert or warned the people of the impending danger, nor did anyone declare a state of natural dissasster right after the flooding.
How did the floods influence you personally?
Today, one year after the flooding, the consequences are still visible. We still haven’t moved back to our house, which is almost renovated. I’ve finished high school, currently preparing for my final exams and I’m preparing for university entrance exams. What I expirienced one year ago has left serious consequences for me and my family, consequences, which I try not to show, but which I cannot escape, as I see more and more clearly every day.
Were you involved in helping the victims of the floods?
Immediately after the evacuation I involved myself actively in helping the refugee center, where I was engaged where help was needed. A few days after, I helped in dealing with the consequences at home and, when the situation had stabilized, along with several of my friends, I set off to distribute aid in the local community.
Who is responsible for climate change and its consequences in your opinion?
Climate change is a global problem caused by human activities and insufficiently developed human awareness about the severity of human impact on nature. For them, I can’t blame anyone by name, but can hold responsible human kind and the race for modernization and profits, which have no limits, for the sake of which we seem willing to cut the branch on which we sit.Is there an organized activity/movement in your local community, regarding the floods? Did anyone try to initiate any activities and involve you in those efforts, for you personally or for your community?I personally believe that the activities of the local community are erratic and insufficient. All public institutions and schools were renewed, but not cultural and sports facilities. But I think the biggest problem is that nothing (or almost nothing) has been done to strengthen the system of civil defense, which should be activated in case of new disasters.
Do you think that the Paris negotiations can influence your problem? What do you expect will happen in the future? What do you fear?
Climate negotiations (Conference of Parties 21) should give impetus and new ideas to solve problems resulting from climate change, but only if all stakeholders are sincerely and unreservedly ready to do work on adopting decisions and realising them. We know historically that there many conferences have been held and many different protocols and conclusions decided on regarding damage assessment and climate change (the Aarhus Convention, the Kyoto Protocol, among others), but that even those who have signed them have not approached their implementation and application in their communities. If there is no change and if mankind does not change its mind I think that our future is pitch black, hence we all need to be concerned about our planet and the future of humanity.
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