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UK civils team up to rebuild tattered Serbia

THE UK is mobilising civil engineers as part of an EU emergency aid package to patch up Serbia's crumbling infrastructure.

Teams have been put together to advise on energy generation and distribution, waste management and water supply as part of the UK's £1.3M contribution. The response should get Serbia's damaged infrastructure through this winter.

The energy taskforce includes contractor Amec, consultants Mott Macdonald and IMC, and energy firms Innogy, Nalco Exxon, UOP, BP and Advantia. Water supply expertise is being provided by Anglian Water, and waste management by Scottish demolition firm Dalkeith.

Teams will work to improve basic living conditions across Serbia to buttress new president Vojislav Kostunica's democratic government (NCE 9 November). The European Commission is pushing to bolster Kostunica's position before elections for Serbia's parliament are held on 23 December.

In a report on pressing reconstruction needs, published this week, the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitairan Affairs in Belgrade says Serbia needs £550M worth of assistance in the energy sector alone. Some 75% of electricity has to be imported from neighbouring countries at present. European Union financial assistance committed so far will only keep Serbia supplied until January.

Serbia is scheduled to rejoin the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development later this month, enabling it to finance larger scale reconstruction projects.

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