|© UNICEF video|
|Nane Annan, wife of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, visits children injured during the 8 October earthquake at a hospital in Islamabad. Mrs. Annan also helped administer polio drops as part of a national immunization campaign supported by UNICEF.|
By Kitty Logan
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, 18 November 2005 – UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and his wife Nane Annan are in Pakistan to attend an international donors’ conference for earthquake emergency relief. Mrs. Annan took the opportunity to visit the Islamabad children’s hospital and spend time with boys and girls recovering from injuries sustained in the 8 October quake.
Among the children Mrs. Annan met at the hospital was 6-year-old Ifra, who was rescued from the rubble of a school in Muzaffarabad and evacuated by air.
Ifra mostly lies silently in her hospital bed. She was so strongly affected by the terror of the quake that she hardly speaks or smiles. But she is among the lucky ones – she survived, was treated for her severely broken right leg and is recovering.
Mrs. Annan was visibly moved by Ifra’s story. The young girl was one of several injured children she visited, spoke with and sought to cheer up.
|© UNICEF video|
|Six-year-old Ifra was rescued from the rubble of a collapsed school in Muzaffarabad and evacuated by air to the hospital in Islamabad.|
UNICEF is helping immunize children as part of Pakistan’s national polio immunization days. Mrs. Annan herself administered vaccine to young patients in the hospital. Among them was 4-year-old Dilshad, recovering from a stomach wound. Dilshad will soon be well enough to go home to Muzaffarabad.
The immunization campaign is especially important for children in quake-affected areas. “These children are particularly vulnerable to the spread of disease,” said UNICEF Health Officer Jeffrey Bates.
“If we can immunize all the children in Pakistan with polio drops, we have a very good chance of seeing the last case in Pakistan,” said Mr. Bates.
In Pakistan at least 74,000 people lost their lives during the 8 October earthquake and 79,000 were injured. During his visit, the Secretary-General referred to the relief work that lies ahead as a “gigantic” task. More support is still needed from donors. UNICEF has appealed for more than $92 million for earthquake relief, of which only about $59 million has been received to date.
Sabine Dolan and Eric Mullerbeck contributed to this story from New York.
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