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布莱尔首相演讲:Mozambique

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TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER'S BROADCAST ON 3 MARCH 2000

The scenes this week from Mozambique have been incredibly moving. I don't suppose any of us will forget the extraordinary courage of the pregnant woman clambering for safety up a tree having to give birth there and then, fortunately mother and baby being winched by helicopter to safety minutes later.

That mother's courage has been matched by similar acts of bravery, not just from the victims of the flood but from those trying to rescue them.

Many have been saved. Many others are still in danger. These are the worst floods to have hit the area for half a century. It's believed that there are as many as 100,000 people there still stranded and in danger from the floodwaters -in trees, on roofs or crowded together without food or drinking water on the only high ground they can find. Around half a million people are believed to have lost everything they possessed.

And it's such a tragedy for Mozambique: a country that after many years of difficulty was finally struggling to get back on its feet again.

In the light of this tragedy, the world has had to act quickly. And I believe we can be proud of the way that Britain and British people have reacted. And of the way that our Department for International Development has used its enormous expertise in order to do the very best it can to help. And we're lucky that we have that expertise in dealing with disaster relief.

And we've seen it this week in action.

We chartered seven helicopters - five locally, two from the Ukraine. We are sending another four RAF helicopters of our own. 108 inflatable boats have been loaded onto a plane in Kent to fly immediately to the region.

We have sent Land Rovers, satellite equipment, Royal National Lifeboat personnel and a fire brigade team.

The total assistance -not just pledged but donated- from the UK government stands at £7.3m. And today we can do more. When the flood waters subside, the rebuilding process will have to begin quickly. Otherwise the population will be at the mercy of cholera and malaria epidemics. That is why we are sending Fort George, a special supply ship currently in the gulf, to the region. It is equipped with fresh water, food, medicine, much needed aviation fuel, as well as five Royal Navy Sea King helicopters. It's going to be able to accommodate 500 evacuated people. In just over a week it will be in Mozambique, delivering more in the humanitarian effort.

You can never say that you've done enough or that you couldn't have done more. But I do know that our country has acted quickly -putting its expertise across the board at the disposal of Mozambique; and showing once again how Britain can be a force for good in the world.

I know, too, that you want the government to act. Clare Short, Geoff Hoon the Defence Secretary, and their Ministers have been working flat out on this. They know how much the British people care about suffering like this. And I know too that you will all want to play your part as well. Yesterday an emergency appeal was launched by the charities working in Mozambique. It deserves all our support.

Donations can be made at any Bank or Post Office, or via www.dec.org.uk or on this telephone number: 0870 606 0900.  

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