Cablegate: Tfx001: French Casualties and Humanitarian

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.



E.O. 12958: N/A

1. SUMMARY. On December 29, poloff spoke with MFA India
Desk Officer, Louis Vassy, about French victims of the
tsunami of December 26 and French plans for humanitarian aid

packages for the regions hit hardest by the disaster. Vassy
elaborated on the deaths and voiced concerns that the number
of French casualties might rise drastically. He also spoke
about French plans to contribute 15 million Euros to United
Nations and International Red Cross relief efforts; later in
the day it was announced that the 15 million would be part of
a larger 22.16 million Euro French relief package. END

--------------------------------------------- -----------
French Victims and a Fear that the Worst is Yet to Come
--------------------------------------------- -----------
2. Vassy told us that there have been 20 confirmed French
casualties as of December 29 from the tsunami -- 19 deaths
occurred in Thailand and one in Sri Lanka. While French news
reports put the number of French missing at 90, Vassy said
that the MFA fears that the number is higher and that the GOF
is preparing for the possibility of a sharp increase in the
number of French casualties. The MFA announced that the
number of French injured is 189. The GOF has established
hotlines to facilitate the identification of victims.

The French Aid Package
3. On December 29, the French government announced details
of an aid package for the victims in the affected region.
The package totals 22.16 million Euros (US$30.1 million) of
which 15 million Euros are allocated to humanitarian agencies
of the United Nations and the International Red Cross; 1.56
million will go to bilateral assistance in the form of
equipment, rescue workers and other specialists; and an
additional 5.6 million Euros will be offered as part of a
European Union aid package (the French contribution is
roughly 17% of the total EU aid package).

4. Prior to announcing the package, French Prime Minister
Jean-Pierre Raffarin brought several ministers together to
discuss relief efforts in the region to include Minister of
the Interior, Dominique de Villepin; Minister of Finance,
Herve Gaymard; Minister of Transportation, Gilles de Robien;
Minister of Justice, Dominique Perben; and Minister of Health
Philippe Douste-Blazy. The ministers heard an account from
French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier, who had just returned
from his emergency trip to Sri Lanka and Thailand to assess
damage and coordinate relief.

5. Outside of the official aid package, efforts are being
made across France through local governments, NGOs and
individuals to provide humanitarian aid. In the next few
days some 34 tons of food will be sent to the region through
Catholic Relief and the French Red Cross; and the French NGO,
Doctors without Borders, will send 40 tons of emergency aid
supplies to Sri Lanka.

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