Czech Rep offers help to children, families, who survived Russia's worst terrorist attack

06-09-2004

Russia has entered two official days of mourning for the dead - parents and children - killed in the bloody siege at the school in Beslan, North Ossetia. They had looked forward to a new school year, instead they were victims to the worst terrorist attack since 9/11 that has left Russia - and much of the world - reeling. Countries around the globe have already offered support, among them the Czech Republic, offering recuperative stays for children and families to overcome the trauma they experienced.

Terrorist attack in Beslan, photo: CTKTerrorist attack in Beslan, photo: CTK On the streets of Prague the mood for the Russians is one of overwhelming solidarity, many Czechs saying it was important their country does its utmost to help the survivors from Beslan, North Ossetia, to return to "something like" normal lives.

"We definitely should help the children, I'm definitely for it, whether in this case, or in Afghanistan. It's true, there's a question of the cost it's an investment we won't get back, but that's irrelevant. We're human beings so we have to help."

Others said it was the least the country could do, and one woman stressed it was practically one's duty.

"Yes, we have to help."

Funeral of the child from Beslan, photo: CTKFuneral of the child from Beslan, photo: CTK The Czech government, meanwhile, is similarly inclined, suggests Prime Minister Stanislav Gross:

"We have consulted with several psychologists and we came to the conclusion it would be best for the families to experience a completely different setting for a time, and we're prepared to provide a very flexible offer. We have experience with extreme situations, like in Kosovo and elsewhere. We understand the situation and are able to react very quickly - in a matter of hours."

As Russian forces reclaimed the devastated school last week while survivors fled to escape, the Czechs outlined a plan in which three Czech ministries would run the Russian children's stay, with the interior ministry providing the facilities, the foreign ministry covering the finances and most importantly, the health ministry providing psychological counselling and care.

But, the details still have to be worked out.

For instance: how many families would take part, how would the finances ultimately be broken down, and most importantly, will Russia even accept? As yet, the Russians have not officially responded to the Czechs' offer. For now, a spokeswoman from the Russian Embassy in Prague told Radio Prague on Monday the embassy was still waiting for information from home.

Child from Beslan in Vladikavkaz's hospital, photo: CTKChild from Beslan in Vladikavkaz's hospital, photo: CTK "At the moment we're still waiting for information from Moscow with regards to the Czech government's offer. But, at this point in time we do not know the answer yet."

Clearly, it will still take some time before the matter is decided. But Czechs, having provided similar stays for children from war-torn regions in the past, say they are up to the task. If they can they will play a part in the recovery: to try and rebuild lives shattered in North Ossetia last week in this latest terrorist attack.

06-09-2004

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