Humanitarian aid for flood victims

05-04-2006

Flood waters in the Czech Republic are slowly but surely receding and though some areas are still underwater, the focus has now switched from crisis management, to rebuilding and reconstruction efforts. With thousands of people having been evacuated and dozens of municipalities inundated, the cost of returning to normal life is bound to be substantial. Where the money will come from and where it will go is something that Radio Prague's Yon Pulkrabek looked into. He joins us in the studio now.

Photo: CTKPhoto: CTK Yon, now that thousands of people evacuated have begun retuning to their homes - cost of repairing damages is something that is on everyone's mind - how much is it going to cost?

"It's still too early to say how much damage has been caused and how much money will have to be invested for lives to return to normal, but we can say this: although damaging, flooding throughout most parts of the country has luckily not been as catastrophic as in 2002."

Where is the money going to come from?

"The government has already announced its intention to earmark some five billion Czech crowns, or about 217 million dollars, to come to the aid of those who have been displaced. Also, Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel of Austria, the country that holds the rotating EU presidency at the moment, promised Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek over the phone on Tuesday to push for aid from the EU Solidarity Fund. This call has been echoed by Czech EU Commissioner Vladimir Spidla. U.S. ambassador William Cabaniss pledged aid from the United States on Monday as a gesture of gratitude for aid the Czech Republic sent after the hurricane Katrina disaster last year.

Photo: CTKPhoto: CTK Inside the Czech Republic, help is also coming from groups and organizations. Most political parties have pledged money they were planning to use for their election campaigns for flood relief. The Christian Democrats have said they will give one million crowns to the Czech Catholic Charity, which is also the amount the Social Democrats plan to donate. The opposition Civic Democrats has pledged another 1.3 million crowns."

Where is most of the money from these donations going to go?

"Most of these donations, along with those from private individuals, companies and other groups will go to aid groups like such as the Red Cross or the charity ADRA. I asked Irena Kalhousova from ADRA what the money would be spent first."

"Now we are focusing on first aid and humanitarian aid. Then we will see how much money we have left over and start some long term projects. But the first and the main interest is for us is to help people in their current situation."

Ms. Kalhousova also explained what are the first steps in the process of rebuilding and recovery after these floods.

"First of all, we will start to distribute the dryers, which we already started. Then we will distribute different types of cleaners and disinfectants so that people can start with cleaning. Then, we have many volunteers ready to start helping those whose houses were affected to clean their homes."

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