Bosnia-Herzegovina striker Edin Dzeko appeals for aid to help flood victims
Balkans region hit by worst flooding in over a century
Dzeko has just won English Premier League title with Manchester City
Bosnia will make debut at World Cup in Brazil next month
Edin Dzeko is a man on a mission – and it’s not just about winning the World Cup.
Bosnia’s qualification for Brazil 2014 created joyous scenes on the streets of Sarajevo as 50,000 people turned out to celebrate last October.
Its players have become heroes and will travel to South America hoping to do the nation proud on its debut on the world’s biggest football stage.
But any thoughts of World Cup success have been placed on hold following the worst floods in the Balkans region for over 120 years.
“I think it’s important for the people, for the world, to know this is not a game,” Dzeko, who has appealed for help on Twitter, told CNN.
“This is something serious. So many people have lost their lives, lost their homes.
“They were trying to build something for themselves and for their kids over the past 20 years and they’ve lost it just like that.”
The floods have wreaked destruction on parts of Croatia and Serbia too, while Bosnian president Bakir Izetbegovic confirmed to CNN that the flooding has left billions of dollars worth of damage.
At least 13 people have died during the natural disaster in Bosnia, while there have been deaths in Serbia too.
“I want the whole world, not just the people in Bosnia and Serbia, to know,” added Dzeko, who plays for English Premier League champion Manchester City.
“If anyone could help Bosnia and Serbia in any way, it would be amazing.”
While Dzeko has taken to social media to ask for help, humanitarian organizations have begun to arrive.
The Red Cross estimates around 50,000 people throughout the country are without safe water and electricity, while it claims “many are living in unsafe and insanitary conditions created by the floods.”
A state of emergency has been declared in 14 municipalities, according to the Red Cross, while landslides have caused havoc.
The World Food Program has already announced plans to send enough aid to help 150,000 in Bosnia’s most-affected areas.
One of the most damaged sectors of Bosnian trade is its crop production, and the recent floods have left farms and agricultural land decimated.
“This country is brutally destroyed by nature,” said Zlatko Lagumdzija, Bosnia’s minister of foreign affairs. “The landslides are absolutely destroying the country. We have registered up to 2,000,” he said.
One of the biggest problems Bosnia is now facing is the displacement of warning signs and mines around the deadly minefields which remain from the war.
And while Dzeko and his teammates are ensconced within the relative calm of their training camp in Sarajevo, the players are fully aware of the destruction which has been wrought upon their homeland.
“Everyone is talking about it,” the striker said.
“I think that’s the main thing here. Unfortunately, what happened has happened.
“We just hope that this will not go further in a bad way and hope that from the next days and months will just be getting better and better.
“The help is coming from all over the world and if there could be more that would be appreciated a lot.”
Dzeko has enjoyed a successful season, helping Bosnia qualify for the World Cup while leading Manchester City to the Premier League title.
The 28-year-old scored 26 goals in all competitions and won plenty of admirers for his performances – including Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho.
Mourinho told British media that he felt Dzeko should have been named player of the year in England instead of Liverpool’s Luis Suarez.
“When you hear something like that from one of the best managers in the world then I have to say I am very proud of myself,” Dzeko said.
“I did some good things in the past and thanks to Jose Mourinho that he thinks like that.
“I said it before, when you get compliments from one of the best managers in the world, you want to be even better and it gives you some power and more confidence to do better in the future.”