May.21 - Hundreds of Serbian flood evacuees are temporarily housed in a hotel in central Belgrade as a Dutch celebrity chef cancels a cooking show to make them dinner. Sarah Toms reports.
Tens of thousands of Serbians have fled their homes for temporary shelter after devastating floods caused by unprecedented torrential rains. Donations have poured in for the victims. Many, who left with little more than the clothes on their backs. But here in central Belgrade, these evacuees are luckier than some. This hotel has opened its doors to almost 300 victims of the floods and landslides. (SOUNDBITE) (Serbian) FLOOD EVACUEE, PETKO VLAHOVIC, SAYING: "They welcomed us into Hotel Slavija, they gave us two double rooms because we have two children. We are comfortable here. We have food for the children. They gave us everything we need so that we are very happy here. I thank the state and all the charitable people who donated things and helped us." These meals are being prepared by one of Europe's celebrity chefs. Rudolph Van Veen was touring the Balkans for a host of cookery shows but he cancelled the trip and decided to help when the extent of the tragedy became clear. . (SOUNDBITE) (English) CELEBRITY CHEF, RUDOLPH VAN VEEN, SAYING: "Unfortunately I'm not, I don't make boats, I'm not a carpenter, Im not a doctor, I don't have water pumps. I cook and that's what I do." On the menu was chicken, rice and sauteed vegetables. . (SOUNDBITE) (English) CELEBRITY CHEF, RUDOLPH VAN VEEN, SAYING: "It will be like a one pot dish. It is something that's like not too difficult to make and not too difficult to share and it's food that a lot of people recognise. Because this is not like a show, this is food to be made for people who are in misery and who are here to shelter." Serbia and Bosnia Herzegovina are observing a period of national mourning for more than forty people killed in the worst flooding for more than a century. But in Hotel Slavija, at least, people are having a taste of better times to come.