Hungary + 3 more

REC announces emergency grants to address Tisza cyanide disaster

In an effort to respond quickly to the environmental disaster caused by a cyanide spill in the Szamos, Tisza and Danube rivers, the Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe (REC) announced Feb. 24 that it is administering EURO 20,000 in emergency grants to non-governmental organisations involved in urgent work to address the crisis.

The cyanide spill at the Aurul gold mine in Baia Mare, Romania has been termed "the worst environmental disaster in Europe since Chernobyl," and the REC recognises that NGOs from Hungary, Romania and Yugoslavia need support in dealing with this situation.

The funds for these emergency grants have been provided by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The REC has begun seeking tenders for the emergency grants, with the aim of supporting environmental NGOs focusing on immediate efforts, including those already underway, in four areas:

Direct activities in the field, such as clean-up and efforts to preserve biodiversity, etc.

Assistance in public participation, and providing access of local communities to legal assistance in obtaining remuneration.

Facilitation of a multi-stakeholder dialogue, and co-operative efforts between sectors.

Access to, and the dissemination of, information about the effects of the contamination in the rivers to local inhabitants, and the general public.

As the REC wishes to direct assistance to these types of grassroots activities, the funds are not focused on activities such as monitoring, etc., that could be better conducted under the auspices of government and academic institutions.

Through its Tisza River Response Project, the REC is also working to mobilise other sources of funding to support the participation of citizens and access to information through environmental NGOs. The Center also offers its expertise to assist international governmental activities aimed at achieving restitution of the damages and prevention of further accidents. The Center will continue to facilitate the institution of environmental management with businesses, especially industries with high environmental risk.

For more information contact Mary McKinley, E-mail: Tel: (36 26) 311-199. Fax: (36 26) 311-294.

Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe