Britain gives Serbia £10m winter relief

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The Independent Online

International Development Secretary Clare Short has announced Britain will donate £10 million to Serbia to help its people through the bitter Balkans winter.

International Development Secretary Clare Short has announced Britain will donate £10 million to Serbia to help its people through the bitter Balkans winter.

Ms Short said Serbians were suffering after years of economic decline under the regime of former president Slobodan Milosevic.

Britain was acting, she added, because the prospects for hundreds of thousands of people are looking increasingly desperate as winter approaches

She said the recent uprising that deposed Milosevic has left the country ill-equipped to cope.

"The people of Serbia are suffering the consequences of a prolonged period of social and economic collapse," she said.

Britain will also be contributing around 17 percent of a £120 million EU grant to help the country cope and provide support to new President Kostunica, who is reforming the country in the wake of the uprising.

Living standards are much worse than last year, with unemployment at 50 percent, according to Ms Short.

An estimated 40 percent of the population are living on less than a dollar a day and health systems are at breaking point, with several medicine shortages.

The British cash will be used to create centres where people can enjoy shelter and warmth, support essential health and childrens' services, provide emergency goods and services and monitor aid distribution.

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