Up to 80,000 children go to bed hungry each day in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Most people living in poverty depend on public kitchens, the help of humanitarian organisations and their neighbours for support with basic living essentials. The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated an already strained economy where 600,000 people live on just 1.5-2.5 euros a day. Relief workers in the country stress that the situation is, in reality, much worse than the numbers indicate with many people who are not included in the statistics unable to survive without additional help. The elderly, returnees, people with disabilities and marginalised individuals struggle to access social support.
The cost of living has risen, people need to buy additional vitamins, protective masks and disinfectants. Even those belonging to middle-income families, who would like to provide support to their neighbours, are now finding themselves in a situation where they are also seeking support.
The most urgent needs are food assistance, medicine and clothing. Bosnia and Herzegovina has between twenty and thirty public kitchens serving one meal a day to approximately 20,000 people. Most public kitchens depend on food donations, money or Qurbani.
This year has been particularly difficult for many Bosnian families who used to slaughter Qurbani for Eid ul-Adha, making our help as a humanitarian organisation important, now more than ever. Muslim Aid, through its seasonal Qurbani project, has supported members of marginalised groups and public kitchen users including returnees, families of people with disabilities and the elderly. In 2020, we distributed 1,200 Qurbani shares in eight towns across Bosnia and Herzegovina, which has met the nutritional health needs of at least 4,800 individuals. Each family received a Qurbani share of around four kilograms of meat that would feed them for several days and allow them to enjoy their Eid celebrations.