BUDAPEST—In response to the ecological disaster in Hungary, the Open Society Foundations today announced a grant of $1 million to support the victims of the toxic sludge spill in the western part of the country. The grant will be used for reconstruction efforts and to ensure similar catastrophes are avoided.
“My hope is that these funds, given in response to an appeal for help from Prime Minister Orban, can provide some relief for the people affected by this tragedy,” said George Soros, chair and founder of the Open Society Foundations. “Moving forward, Hungary must implement preventative measures to ensure this does not happen again.”
Soros' emergency grant comes after an aluminum plant in the Kolontar-Devecser region on Monday spilled one million cubic meters of toxic sludge. The spill claimed the lives of four people, injured 100, and caused widespread damage to nearby villages and towns. The disaster threatens to pollute huge swaths of land along the Danube and Europe’s second longest river itself.
The grant is part of the Open Society Foundations’ emergency fund, which was established in 2009 in response to the economic crisis in Europe. A total of $36 million so far has been dispensed to 20 countries, including Hungary, to alleviate the most pressing social and cultural problems caused by the deteriorating economic climate.
Active in more than 70 countries, the Open Society Foundations work to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens. Working with local communities, the Open Society Foundations support justice and human rights, freedom of expression, and access to public health and education.