As bushfires continue to ravage large swathes of Australia, people across the world are donating money to help in the relief efforts. This is also the case in the Czech Republic, where millions of crowns have been raised through various institutional and individual pledges. The Prague Zoo alone has raised more than CZK 4,7 million to help local fauna.
The US Embassy in Prague has honoured Šimon Pánek, a Velvet Revolution
student leader and founder of People in Need, one of the largest
humanitarian aid NGOs in the region.
Pánek was presented with the Alice Garrigue Masaryk Prize on International Human Rights Day. The distinction, named after the American-born wife of the first Czechoslovak president, is awarded to personalities for their work in that area.
People in Need (Člověk v tísni) is an internationally recognized Czech humanitarian organisation active in the fields of humanitarian aid, development and education.
Pánek founded the NGO in 1988 by organising a collection to aid victims of a devastating earthquake in Armenia.
Recently, Russia’s Ministry of Justice declared the Czech NGO “undesirable”, effectively banning it from operating in that country.
The Czech Foreign Ministry is ascertaining how best to help Indonesia in
the wake of a devastating earthquake and tsunami which hit the island of
Sulawesi on Friday.
EU member states are currently coordinating their aid to the region with the help of local authorities.
The options are financial aid, humanitarian aid or sending rescue teams. A meeting of diplomats from EU member states is taking place on Monday.
According to the Czech Foreign Ministry a Czech national who was hit by the tsunami is reported to be uninjured and has been flown to Makasar. All other Czech tourists in the region are reported to be safe.
A 7.5-magnitude earthquake shook the Indonesian island of Sulawesi on Friday followed by a massive tsunami, which killed more than 830 people. Hundreds are reported injured and tens of thousands have been displaced.
The Czech Foreign Ministry has said that no Czechs are among victims of
Hurricane Irma which hit Florida and the Caribbean. The ministry was
responding to a query by the Czech News Agency; spokeswoman Irena
Valentová said neither the embassy nor any consulates in the US or Cuba
had registered any Czech nationals being in danger.
The Foreign Ministry has strongly recommended that Czechs not travel to stricken areas. According to the ministry, there are around 1,000 Czech nationals in the state of Florida – members of the expat community as well as tourists.
US President Donald J. Trump has declared a state of emergency in the state. Following landfall by the hurricane, millions of people were evacuated from their homes to safer areas; three people were reported killed in the hurricane.
The Czech Foreign Ministry is releasing five million crowns in emergency
aid to the victims of hurricane Harvey, the ministry said on its website.
The money should go to buy water, food, medicines and hygiene supplies.
Czech Catholic charities are also sending aid. The Czech Bishops conference said it was sending 23,000 dollars to the Archdiocese on Galevston-Houston. There is a large community of Czech expats living in Texas.
Among the humanitarian organizations providing lifesaving aid in earthquake stricken Nepal is the Czech Red Cross. The organization released 13 million crowns to the Nepalese Red Cross in the immediate aftermath of the natural disaster and has since been flying out tons of medical supplies which it is helping to deliver to remote health posts and villages. Richard Smejkal of the Czech Red Cross is just back from an aid mission to the country and I asked him to share his impressions.
A Czech government plane with 10 rescuers and four medics on board as well as tonnes of humanitarian aid took off from Prague on Friday night bound for Nepal. The humanitarian flight from the Czech Republic will in part allow some of the current aid workers on site since the end of April to be replaced. Space on the return flight has been earmarked for others seeking to evacuate the earthquake hit country. So far 22 places have been filled, mostly by citizens not from the Czech Republic.