People In Need (Czech Republic)
|People In Need|
|Formation||1992 in Prague, Czechoslovakia|
|Purpose/focus||Protecting human rights and providing human relief, development assistance, and social integration projects|
|Headquarters||Prague, Czech Republic|
People in Need (PIN) (Czech: Člověk v tísni) is a Czech nonprofit, non-governmental organization that implements humanitarian relief and long term development projects, educational programs, and human rights programs in crisis regions all over the world. Its director is Simon Panek. In 2011, PIN operated in 28 countries.
In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, PIN runs social integration programs and provides informative and educational activities. The organization aims to promote democratic freedom and principles of human solidarity. Since its foundation in 1992, PIN has had a presence in almost 50 countries. Currently, PIN is one of the largest NGOs in Central and Eastern Europe.
People in Need is a member of Alliance 2015, Czech Forum for Development Cooperation (FoRS), EU Monitoring Centre (EUMC), Eurostep, CONCORD and VOICE. The vast majority of revenue comes from individual projects. Among its donors are the Czech government, the Humanitarian Aid department of the European Commission, EuropeAid, the United States Agency for International Development, UN agencies, and people of the Czech Republic.
The organization was founded in 1992 by Šimon Pánek, a student activist during the Velvet Revolution, and by Jaromír Štětina, a war correspondent from conflict areas of former Soviet Union. The organization began its work as Nadace Lidových novin (The Lidové noviny Foundation, in English Popular Newspapers) and changed its name two years later to Nadace Člověk v tísni při České televizi (The People in Need Foundation under the auspices of Czech Television). In 1999 the organisation was given its current name, People in Need. Since 2009 Šimon Pánek has been the director of PIN. In order to deliver relief aid and development assistance, PIN cooperates on creating a tolerant, open society and mobilizes support of the public. Activities of PIN are most apparent during big humanitarian crisis like during the floods in the Czech Republic in 2002, the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake (Czech people and companies donated more than 130 million CZK) or the 2007 Greek forest fires. In Africa and Asia PIN implements development projects providing basic human needs and education. In several countries like Cuba, Belarus, Ukraine or Moldova opposition movements or individuals who advocate democratic and liberal rights are supported by PIN. In the Czech Republic the organisation concentrates on several issues like the assistance of local Roma (Gypsies) living on the edge of the society, the organization of cultural activities (most prominent is the One World Film Festival founded by Igor Blaževič), the distribution of information projects and the involvement in political activism.
In 2007, PIN established major projects in Afghanistan (irrigation, local schools), Sri Lanka (since the 2004 earthquake), Pakistan (reconstruction after the 2005 earthquake in Pakistani part of Kashmir), Angola and Ethiopia (construction of schools), Namibia (help for people suffering HIV/AIDS), Romania and Serbia (endorse groups of ethnic Czechs settled there for generations) and several other countries.
In 2008, two missions were implemented by PIN in Burma (relief and recovery operations after cyclone Nargis) and the DR Congo (support for victims of rape and sexual violence). One year later in 2009 the organization was involved in providing assistance after the devastating floods in the Czech Republic.
Programs and Projects
Humanitarian and Development Aid
People in Need provides assistance to victims of humanitarian crises in more than 40 countries in Europe, Asia and Africa. In 2011 it provided development aid in 28 countries worldwide. Regarding developing projects, the predominant aim of PIN is to ensure basic living needs like access to water, employment, education and health. Moreover, PIN maintains the creation of social programs as well as the development of local enterprises and backs the emergence of civil societies with democratic governance. All of these projects are implemented in a number of African countries (e.g. the DR Congo, Ethiopia and Angola), in Asia (e.g. in Afghanistan and Cambodia) and in Europe (e.g. Romania). In early 2010, with a fund of more than 2 million Euros donated by the Czech companies and the general public, a humanitarian mission was set up for earthquake that affected Haiti.
With its eleventh year in Afghanistan, PIN faces its biggest foreign mission while encompassing both a number of integrated projects and programs. During its local work, 82 schools were either newly built or refurbished. Furthermore, conditions for 50.000 male and female students and teachers were improved, and agricultural secondary schools in 17 provinces were supported.
The Czech Republic itself was affected by several recurring floods. When the floods hit the country in 1997, 2002, 2006, 2009 and 2010, PIN sustained victims with required material and financial assistance donated by private persons, companies and institutions. When the floods hit the Czech Republic, financial assistance was given to 1178 households in 62 villages. In addition, 1150 kits for disinfection, 3650 tools, 2,900 items of protective clothing and 2000 packages of insect repellent were conveyed.
Social Integration Programs
Since 1999 PIN has regularly worked to reduce poverty and social exclusion in the Czech Republic. It especially helps in poorer areas by providing social outreach projects, namely housing advice, advisory service for debtors, and limiting unemployment. In the past years, PIN has expanded to offer job and legal counseling, tutoring, social service assistance, police apparatus, and encourages meaningful leisure activities for children.
In summer 2006 the organization established a separate social integration department (in Czech: Programů sociální integrace, PSI). The aim of this department is to provide a comprehensive range of services for socially excluded individuals and families. Additionally, advises local councils in towns and municipalities where most socially excluded populations are located. Their approach attempts to address the issue on both the individual and local levels.
Currently, the program employs over 200 people, including 130 social workers, job counselors, lawyers, and educators who are further supported by over 300 volunteers. It operates in more than 60 cities and municipalities across the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
In 2004 PIN began to work in Roma (gypsy) settlements in the Slovak Republic. The organization seeks to resolve problems arising from extreme poverty, low levels of education, unemployment, and the seemingly impenetrable barrier between Roma culture and mainstream society. In Slovakia, assistance and counseling are provided in towns like Kezmarok, Roškovce, Spišský Hrhov, Krompachy, Hermanovce, Lipan, Zborov, and Vranov nad Topľou. It is headquartered in Bratislava.
Social exclusion is closely linked to the problems of debt and the debt trap, which is associated with illegal loan-sharks and so-called quick loans offered by non-banking companies and even legitimate banking establishments. Hence, People in Need began negotiations with the Czech Banking Association in 2010, and reached an agreement regarding the elimination of unfair terms for credit agreements at all Czech banks. In 2011, PIN completed a nearly three-year campaign of indexing predatory lending to the Roma in Slovakia. Thanks to the campaign, the vast majority of companies modified the provision of loans.
Promotion of Human Rights
A major part of the work of PIN is to advocate for dissidents, opposition activists, and the development of a civil society in countries controlled by authoritarian regimes. In regard to its experience with communist regimes, PIN implements its programs in Cuba, Belarus, Moldova, Russia, and Ukraine. Burma  continues to be a country of concern. In 1997, PIN was able to contact the politician and democratic activist Aung San Suu Kyi, who consented to illustrate the problems of her country in the Czech Republic.
PIN’s primary focus is to support political prisoners (and their families), human rights defenders, and independent journalists. Therefore the organization encourages civil society initiatives. Families of political prisoners, from harshly repressive regimes such as Burma and Cuba, are provided with financial and humanitarian assistance as well as moral endorsement. A substantial part of the financial aid is provided from the "Friends of People in Need Fund".
The organization actively forwards its views on development in areas affected by war or human rights violations.
People in Need is also organizes the biggest human rights film festival in Europe, held in the Czech Republic, called One World (Czech: Jeden Svět), which received honorable reference for its work on education of human rights by UNESCO in 2007. During the festival People in Need further presents the Homo Homini Award to a person who conduced a significant contribution towards the protection of human rights and non-violent promotion of democracy.
Winners of the Homo Homini Award
Past winners of the award include the following:
- 1994: Sergei Kovalev
- 1997: Szeto Wah
- 1998: Ibrahim Rugova
- 1999: Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas
- 2000: Min Ko Naing
- 2001: Zackie Achmat
- 2002: Thích Huyền Quang, Thích Quảng Độ and Nguyen Van Ly
- 2003: Nataša Kandić
- 2004: Gheorghe Briceag
- 2005: Ales Bialatski and the Belarussian organisation Viasna
- 2006: Svetlana Gannushkina
- 2007: Su Su Nway, Phyu Phyu Thin, and Nilar Thein
- 2008: Liu Xiaobo
- 2009: Majid Tavakoli and Abdollah Momeni
- 2010: Azimzhan Askarov
Education and Outreach
Educational programs are focused on students and teachers of Czech primary and secondary schools, universities and other professional groups (such as employees at employment centers or the police). Educational programs are implemented through presentation of documentary films accompanied by conversations (e.g. One World at schools), an information service about intercultural education and global development (variations program) for teachers, as well as the promotion of ties between institutions and NGOs working in the field of social exclusion (Social Integration Programs).
People in Need focuses on appropriate information to the Czech public, the government and the media. Long and short-term campaigns are implemented in film screenings, discursive evenings, creative competitions, and trips for journalists who address specific issues such as development cooperation (Rozvojovka, Stop child labor). Campaigns include public actions or projects involving the gathering of information and materials on migration and foreigners living in the Czech Republic.
The organization publishes what calls the ‘Predator Index’, a ranking of companies that provide unguaranteed loans, with inappropriate terms and conditions for the debtor. The index is compiled on the basis of clarity of contract and conditions, the presence of default interest in excess of statutory regulations, the cost of a delayed payment in the form of penalties, the cost of the loan in the case of timely payment and the proper use of the arbitration clause.
Russian criticism, Chechnya and Ingushetia Since the end of the 1990s, People in Need maintained several projects in Chechnya and Ingushetia. In 2005, the Russian Weekly Argumenty i Fakty named the organization – as well as other NGOs and the UN – supporters of Chechen separatists and terrorists PIN denied any involvement. In the same year Russia expelled the organization from working in the region. Two years later, in 2007, People in Need was allowed to come back and keep working in Chechnya and Ingushetia.
Cuban criticism, ECOSOC During a meeting of ECOSOC in 2006, the Cuban ambassador accused PIN of being financed by the US and conspiring against the government of Cuba and keeping in contact with Cuban emigrants who have a so-called terrorist past. After the vote, PIN was not recommended for consultative status with the ECOSOC.
Kosovo, South Ossetia PIN was moreover criticized by some Czech journalists for expressing too much political concern: after the Kosovo war, it supported Kosovar Albanians, but not the local Serbs. Similarly, after the South Ossetia war in 2008, relief from PIN was delivered only to Georgian civilians.
Government financing and dependence Another criticism in Czechia concerns the status of PIN as independent and non-governmental. As the revenues come mainly from governmental sources, both directly from the central government, or via communities, PIN's independence is questionable. However, this model is also common in other European NGOs such as Oxfam and Welthungerhilfe who respectively receive 40 and 60 percent of their funding from public sources.
- People in Need's 2011 Annual Report: .
- PIN's About us webpage: .
- People in Need | Demas
- Alliance 2015 site
- Člověk v tísni | About People in Need
- People In Need
- See the 2007 Annual Report.
- People In Need
- cs:Člověk v tísni#cite note-4
- Člověk v Tísni (People in Need), Prague - Czech Republic
- People In Need
- Film Festival One World 2011
- UNESCO - University of Pretoria’s Centre for Human Rights wins 2006 UNESCO Prize for Human Rights Education
- "PREVIOUS RECIPIENTS OF THE HOMO HOMINI AWARD". People in Need. Retrieved 18 April 2011.
- Člověk v tísni | Index predátorského úvěrování 3
- (in Russian): Георгий Александров, Назрань - Москва: В наших стреляют автоматы ООН? – Миллионы долларов для чеченских боевиков проходят через организации, прикрывающиеся дипломатическим статусом, Аргументы и факты, 23 Марта 2005
(Georgi Alexandrov, Nazran - Moscow: Are UN kalashnikovs shooting our men? – Millions of dollars for Chechen militants pass through organizations hiding behind diplomatic status, Argumenty i Fakty, 23.3.2005)
- http://www.clovekvtisni.cz/index2.php?id=317&idArt=24 (in Czech)
- http://zpravodajstvi.ecn.cz/index.stm?apc=zzvx1-2051359 (in Czech)
- Protocol from the meeting, with decision not to recommend PIN in: NGO Committee recommends six organizations for consultative status, UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), 24/01/2006
- Cuba strikes back: Czech NGO denied ECOSOC, confidential cable, US embassy in Prague, Feb 10, 2006, at: dazzlepod.com/cable
- http://www.blisty.cz/art/42080.html Article in Britské listy: People in Tskhinvali are in need, where's People in Need? (in Czech)
- See the 2007 Annual Report (page 40) for detailed breakdown or the reports from previous years: