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Slovakia lags behind in aid provision

Slovakia lags behind neighbouring countries in providing aid to Southeast Asian countries hit by the world's deadliest earthquake and consequent tsunami, reports the daily Pravda.

The Czech government has already assembled a crisis group to discuss the consequences of the catastrophe and eventual aid to help the region.

The Slovak Government will hold its first meeting in 2005 next Wednesday. Spokesman for the Prime Minister, Martin Maruška, was not able to say whether the Asian situation will be discussed.

"The situation is being monitored permanently by the Foreign Ministry," Maruška stated.

The Slovak government sent an aeroplane with 10 tonnes of humanitarian aid to Sri Lanka in December, 2004. The plane returned with stranded Slovak tourists.

Interior Ministry spokesperson, Monika Kuhajdova, claims that 30 more tonnes of humanitarian aid is standing ready and will be transported to Italy, from where it will be sent to Asia.

On January 3 the Interior Ministry approved the state distribution of aid gathered by the Adra Slovakia foundation and by the Slovak UNICEF committee.

However, according to the TASR news agency, Slovak rescuers can now leave for Sri Lanka to help with relief efforts after the Slovnaft petroleum refinery provided rescuers with Sk1 million (€25,000) to cover expenses.

Hungarian rescuers will join their Slovak colleagues and the Red Cross and local Health Ministry will coordinate their activities.

Compiled by Beata Balogová from press reports
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