Following the tragedy in Beslan, where more than 300 people died in a school that had been occupied by terrorists, the Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda met the Russian ambassador to Prague, Alexey Fedotov this week. He reiterated the Czech Republic's offer to provide rehabilitation stays for the Russian children in this country, complete with post-traumatic counselling and care. The largest Czech health insurance company has already begun setting up stays by the sea for 180 children from Beslan.
However, medical care is what's most needed in Beslan now and Czech charities working in the region have already focused on the survivors of the siege in the town. The Czech Catholic Charity last Friday handed over medicine and medical supplies to two hospitals in the city of Vladikavkaz where around 500 injured, both children and adults are being treated. Martin Zamazal of the Czech Catholic Charity which closely cooperates with its local counterpart Caritas Vladikavkaz.
"Of course, immediately when it happened on the 1st of September, I was in touch with the director of the Caritas and we are trying to find out a way to help more efficiently together. Every day we call each other and discuss the proper actions. Yes there is a cooperation with a local Caritas and also we cooperate with UN agencies present in Ingushetia and Ossetia and also with international NGOs here in the area."
Another Czech charity, People in Need, has been working in the Northern Caucasus region since 2000. Livia Kusa is education programme officer at the People in Need's mission in Ingushetia.
"Since People in Need has long experience in providing psycho-social support to traumatised children in Ingushetia and Chechnya we decided to launch activities specifically in this field. Currently we have five North Ossetian psychologists doing an assessment of the situation in the hospitals in Vladikavkaz and starting to work with children whose physical condition allows us already to do so. In the near future we would like to open centres of psycho-social support and rehabilitation for children and their families in Beslan and organise seminars for parents and mainly teachers on how to work with children who have gone through some traumatic experience."
For the people of Beslan the Czech support will be little more than a drop in the ocean, but it does at least offer immediate and concrete help to a city in a state of trauma.
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