Aid reaches isolated villages as snow and cold keep children out of school

ALBANIA- Snow and freezing temperatures in Albania have forced most of its schools to close and isolated many mountainous villages in the north where some communities are relying on helicopter food drops. Four people have reportedly died as a direct result of the cold.

The Albanian government is considering declaring the cold in the north and in Korca and Librazhd an official emergency but has not yet decided to do so.

In response, World Vision is providing emergency aid to vulnerable families who are living within its development programme areas in Dibra, Korca, Librazhd and Shkodra in the north and east of the capital of Tirana.

"One of the girls came to us saying they hadn’t had any food for more than two days..." 

In Dibra, where the snow is more than one metre deep and temperatures plummet down to minus 17 at night, World Vision has provided food to especially vulnerable families.

“One of the girls came to us saying they hadn’t had any food for more than two days.  They said their mother of the family of 6 was in Tirana and she couldn’t get back because the road was closed.  So we bought and delivered food for them,” said Gentjana Belilaj, manager of World Vision’s Dibra Area Development Programme (ADP).

World Vision also helped to open the road to Selane to assist snowbound villagers in the mountains.

"I knew World Vision would come to help.  They helped without hesitation.  They were eager and enthusiastic to help my poor community of Selane…,” said the head of the village, Xheladin Murrja, who did not know who to turn to for help because the roads department takes no responsibility for smaller roads, such as roads to villages. 

“Now that the road is open, the people are connected once again to the outside world,” said Malvina Martini of World Vision’s Dibra ADP.  “There were two children with medical situations who needed to get into Peshkopi for treatment.  Now they are getting the treatment they need and the people in the village can buy the food and supplies they need to cope with cold and snow.” 

Countrywide, World Vision staff in eleven areas have identified the most vulnerable children and families and are closely monitoring their situation in this cold, providing assistance where it is needed.  World Vision started to plan for cold emergencies in December before the current cold situation arrived so staff are able to draw upon pre-positioned supplies and logistics plans.

World Vision’s health, education, advocacy and emergency work in Albania strives to ensure all children are cared for, protected and participating in their communities.