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"Action by Churches Together" mission:  Aid to victims of fires (autumn 2010)

Aid to victims of 2010 summer fires in Russia

The program of urgent aid to those who were most affected by forest fires in Summer 2010 in Russia has been organized under the aegis of the Moscow Patriarchate's department for external church relations and with the support of Action by Churches Together, an international Christian organization, and is implemented by the Russia Round Table.

It has become a continuation of the longstanding cooperation in giving aid to victims of various emergency situations both in the North Caucasus and other regions in Russia and in countries abroad. The Round Table's Newsletter keeps its readers informed about this work on a regular basis.

The implementation of the program began in September 2010 when aid was given to 480 people among the most needy in the Ryazan Region. Each received an individual hygiene kit and a set of bedding including a blanket, a towel and bed linen. Individual rehabilitation aid including medical advice, psychological counselling as well as clothes and footwear was provided for 17 children from the families of homeless victims of fire.

The lists of the beneficiaries of this aid were thoroughly prepared by the program in cooperation with our Church's diocese of Ryazan and Kasimov and local social services.

The need for these lists to be prepared with a special care was dictated by the fact that the local authorities have no complete lists of victims to this day. Thus, the list prepared by the Ministry of Healthcare and Social Protection/Ryazan Region contains 227 families (600 people), while the list of the Emergency Situations Ministry 923 people, while some homeless victims of fires are absent from the both lists though they do have appropriate papers and certificates.

These discrepancies are caused by the fact that many victims have failed to register them in a proper legal way. Sometimes the homeless victims of fire were officially registered in other places while living actually in settlements hit by the fires. For these reasons, the registration criteria for victims have not been finalized yet thus preventing them from receiving aid. As a result, many victims cannot yet receive the aid promised by the federal government for them to restore their burnt houses or to obtain compensation for their lost property. Particularly, there are children registered in the city of Ryazan in their parents' apartments that have not been affected by the fires. But during their summer holidays they were visiting with relatives in the country and were victimized by the fires together with them and were rescued out of fire when some villages, according to victims' recollections, were burnt down instantly within ten or fifteen minutes. These children need urgent competent psychological aid, which is not due to them because the houses in which they were registered were not burned down.

The second part of the Round Table's project will be carried out in the Altai Region, which is also reckoned as an area most affected by forest fires in Russia.

The Newsletter of the Russia Round Table will continue informing its readers about the work to give aid to victims of this natural disaster.

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