The Czech Republic has pledged over 300 million crowns in aid to the tsunami devastated region. Over 200 million crowns will come from state coffers, the rest from public donations to humanitarian aid organizations. Several planeloads of emergency supplies have already been flown to the region and now the government and charities are busy outlining longer-term projects. We called Vojtech Ralek of the Czech Catholic Charity to find out how their plans are taking shape.
"So far we have collected over 17 million crowns which is some 700,000 US dollars. This is for three countries, Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka. In the first phase we are focussing on relief projects -ie. mainly distribution of food and other emergency supplies, shelters, toolkits, medicines and medical equipment. In this phase we are cooperating mainly with local Caritas organizations and partners who are already on the spot."
So you are not actually sending people out?
"Not yet. We are planning to send one or two of our colleagues to Sri Lanka for monitoring purposes and to prepare the ground for rehabilitation projects."
What about your longer term aid plans?
"In the longer term - say about one year - we will mainly focus on helping fishermen's villages, to help them rebuild their lives and livelihood and we would also like to help pre-school children and orphans."
How will you do that?
"Well, as far as the villages are concerned it means helping them to buy new boats and build new houses and as far as the children are concerned we would like to focus on education - something we have considerable experience with, we are doing the same thing in the northern Caucasus region, and we also want to help families who are now taking care of orphans, which means giving them material or financial help according to their needs."
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