Czechs are ready to help US victims

Prague Mayor Jan Kasl placing flowers on a memorial commemorating victims of the American tragedy

The attacks on the United States have given rise to an international wave of humanitarian solidarity for the New York and Washington victims. Soldiers and rescue workers continue to search through the rubble, where an untold number of people are still missing. International relief has quickly been mobilised and here in the Czech Republic people are ready to donate blood, money and other resources. The Czech government has offered to send specially trained rescue-dog teams to aid in the search and recovery operations. Nicole Klement and Vladimir Tax have the story.

Prague Mayor Jan Kasl placing flowers on a memorial commemorating victims of the American tragedy
The Czech Centre in New York, together with the Czech Civic Initiative for the European Union have set up an account where Czechs can send relief donations. Premysl Pela is the director of the Czech Centre in New York:

"We do hope to initiate broad support for the United States in particular to New York and we certainly hope that donations will pour into New York and will be used for humanitarian purposes. Even the small countries, as the Czech Republic, shall be in the first row in declaring their support for American citizens. I think that's really the duty of every citizen of the Czech Republic or any country in the democratic world, to express its position and contribute toward the situation."

Mr. Pela announced that the first relief donations have already been deposited into the account of the Czech Centre in New York (Èeskoslovenská obchodní banka, 119988773/0300). The collection should remain active for three years and the money raised will be presented to New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, with the first payment expected at the beginning of November.

Monetary funds are not the only method by which the Czech Republic is prepared to help. The Czech Prime Minister, Milos Zeman, told Radio Prague that the country had also offered medical and rescue relief, and would be willing to help in the longer term.

"We are prepared to help, not by words but by acts. I understand that solidarity is a long term and concrete chain of actions, not declarations."

The US Ambassador to Prague expressed his gratitude for the Czech government's offer of blood and specially trained dog rescue teams, but explained that because the disaster covered such a small geographical area, such help would not be needed at this stage.

Although the Czech monetary aid is largely symbolic and no other aid is needed, the Czech Republic, as a NATO member, has said it is determined to take an active part in supporting the United States' effort to find and prosecute those responsible for the attacks.

Author: Nicole Klement
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