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Red Cross Appeals for $1 Million to Help European Flood Victims


The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is appealing for money to assist flood victims in the Czech Republic, Romania and Slovakia.

The International Red Cross is asking for more than $1 million to address immediate emergency needs, while Red Cross delegates assess the full extent of the disaster.

The appeal comes as floods continue to ravage Central Europe.

The head of Red Cross operations for Europe and Asia, Kalle Loovi, says the appeal will assist 450,000 people, providing food, water, hygiene articles and other relief goods over the next three months.

He says 250,000 of the victims are in the Czech Republic, the others are in Slovakia and Romania. He says an extensive network of Red Cross volunteers will carry out the operation. Of the three countries, he says the Czech Republic has the strongest organization.

"In Czech Republic, we have something like 20,000 active volunteers. And, many of these volunteers are engaged in these floods," he explained. "Unfortunately, many of them are engaged because their own homes are flooded...So, the structure is in a sense good, but then the structure is very vulnerable, because the members of those groups, they have suffered themselves, and they are taking care of their own families. "

Mr. Loovi has been involved in disaster relief operations in Central Europe for 25 years. He says the current floods are probably the worst he has witnessed, even worse than the big floods, which struck the region in 1997.

"Even if we have learned how to protect against the floods and we have learned that we have to start operation and assistance activities very fast, this time the sheer amount of water and the impact of flooding, I think, was so overwhelming that all the organizations and authorities and civic society - we were not well enough prepared to respond," Mr. Loovi said.

Floods across Central Europe reportedly have caused billions of dollars in damages, killed around 100 people, and shut down the big tourist attractions.

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