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Queen Rania of Jordan visits quake zone

© UNICEF video
Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan visited children at a UNICEF-supported tent school in Muzaffarabad, Pakistan.

By Hind-Lara Mango

MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan, 31 October 2005 – Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan visited Pakistan to meet with children and families affected by the devastating South Asia earthquake. Bringing a planeload of relief supplies with her, the Queen hoped to help generate the international support still needed to save the lives of thousands of children.

"The extent of the damage is hard to imagine,” remarked the Queen. “Children have been orphaned, 2 million children are displaced. The window for extending a helping hand is closing."

Accompanied by UNICEF staff, Queen Rania saw the ruins of a girls’ high school in Muzaffarabad on Saturday, where some 80 students along with their headmistress lost their lives in the quake.

During her visit, Queen Rania witnessed firsthand UNICEF’s efforts to help children and their families affected by the disaster. She visited a UNICEF-supported tent school and asked about the needs of the children. The Queen also toured Abbas Hospital and spoke to women and children there.

The relief effort so far

According to the Government figures, approximately 75,000 people are injured as a result of the disaster which hit Pakistan on 8 October. More than 53,000 people are dead so far, the majority of them from Muzaffarabad.

UNICEF has emptied local warehouses of relief supplies and has sent additional supplies from supply centres abroad, including water purification tablets, high-protein biscuits, blankets, sweaters, medical supplies, tarpaulins and tents.

The organization has supported frontline surgical teams from the first day to treat the injured, and together with WHO is assisting the Pakistan government in immunizing children against measles, tetanus and polio. Some 120,000 children have already been immunized.

Another part of UNICEF's relief effort in the quake zones focuses on restoring schools and helping children recover from trauma. "UNICEF is trying to relieve the distress of these children by diverting their attention. We provide them with opportunities to learn and play in safe spaces," explained UNICEF Senior Programme Officer Ronald Van Dijk, who accompanied the Queen during her visit.

Resources urgently needed

But more remains to be done. With winter fast approaching, 4 million people who have been made homeless by the quake, half of them children, are in urgent need of food, shelter, and medical care.

"We do not have sufficient resources to meet the immediate needs of the children of Pakistan,” said Mr. Van Dijk. UNICEF is appealing for $92 million in earthquake assistance; so far a total of $38 million has been received.

At the conclusion of her visit, Queen Rania said: “We are going to follow it up with an appeal for UNICEF. I hope it will draw as much attention as we can to assist the agency’s work.”




31 October 2005:
UNICEF correspondent Kun Li reports on the visit of Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan to Pakistan’s quake zone.

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