Serbia Arena Becomes Aid Center

It’s unclear when Belgrade’s  will next put on shows, as the Serbian capital’s most-used venue is doubling as an aid center for flood victims.

Photo: Courtesy Kombank Arena
Serbian flood victims seek shelter at Belgrade's Kombank Arena. 

Within 24 hours of becoming a shelter for evacuated people May 19, over 600 people who lost their homes came through the door. On May 20 the Serbian government declared a state of emergency and announced three days of mourning, running to May 23.

“After that, we will have precise information what will be happening with concerts. We hope that life will soon go back to normal and that we won’t need to cancel anything,” Kombank PR manager Danijela Rakic explained. “Serbia receives help from abroad but much more is needed,” she said, pointing out that various charitable appeals are raising money. While the venue has become an aid centre, its staff is busy looking after the homeless.

“We are all taking care of the victims. All our staff is 24 hours in the venue with Red Cross staff and city government representatives,” Rakic told Pollstar. She says she doesn’t know when things will “return to normal” or the likelihood of the Kombank being able to stage upcoming shows from Tom Jones, and Tango In Red Major.

Photo: Courtesy Kombank Arena
Belgrade's Kombank Arena shelters hundreds of flood victims. 

The Serbian government was expected to make a statement when the period of national mourning has passed. Despite European Union humanitarian commissioner Kristalina Georgieva announcing “about a billion euros in aid” from the European Union solidarity fund, it’s unlikely that Serbia can count on seeing more than euro 10 million ($13.6 million) of it.

“The commissioner put it badly, as she mentioned the total sum that is in the fund, and Serbia could get only a small amount of that,” a EU official told the local Tanjug news service.

Although Serbia isn’t a EU member, it can still apply for funds if it manages to prove that the overall damage caused by the floods exceeds 0.64 percent of the gross national income – in Serbia’s case, the equivalent of about euro 175 million ($239 million).