|© Embassy of France in Pakistan|
|French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Philippe Douste-Blazy, visits quake-affected Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir. He visited the devastated region with the Prime Minister of Pakistan’s Kashmir, Sardar Sikandar Hayat Khan.|
By Julia Spry-Leverton
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, 21 November 2005 – France’s Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy has just completed an emergency visit to quake-affected Pakistan and donated 2.5 million euros to UNICEF. During a press conference in Islamabad, Mr. Douste-Blazy stated that, “France will continue its assistance to Pakistan in relief and rehabilitation efforts to help quake survivors.”
He praised the efforts of UNICEF, World Food Programme (WFP) and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for being the frontrunners in relief efforts after the 8 October earthquake.
The French Foreign Minister announced a total gift of 6.5 million euros, of which 2.5 million euros is earmarked for UNICEF, 2 million euros for ICRC and a further 2 million for WFP. In addition, 2 million doses of anti-tetanus vaccines and 1 million doses of anti-measles vaccines were provided by the French company Sanofi Pasteur.
The vaccines will help UNICEF’s extensive measles immunization campaign targeting 800,000 children under 15 years of age. The two-week long campaign, run with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Ministry of Health, will cover the whole of Pakistan-administered Kashmir focusing on the remote valleys where access remains difficult.
With this donation - in response to UNICEF's Flash Appeal for US$92.6 issued immediately after the earthquake struck - France is now UNICEF's biggest donor to date.
In addition, France has also pledged financial assistance of US$124 million at the recently concluded Donors' Conference in Islamabad.
During his visit, Mr. Douste-Blazy toured the quake-hit area of Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, to witness firsthand the magnitude of the devastation caused by the earthquake.
He also visited the wards at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) Children’s Hospital. As a medical doctor himself, he enquired about the health of numerous children being treated at the hospital and praised the courage of young survivors, especially those with serious injuries who have undergone complicated surgery.
Sabine Dolan contributed to this article from New York.
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