08 June 2002 Saturday 26 Rabi-ul-Awwal 1423

Begum Aga Khan meets Portuguese FM

LISBON, June 7: Begum Inaara Aga Khan, Honorary President of Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS), an international emergency relief agency, on Thursday met Portugal's Foreign Minister Antonio Martins da Cruz.

Begum Inaara Aga Khan briefed the foreign minister on the implementation by FOCUS of the 700,000 euros grant made by the Portuguese Institute of Cooperation in October last year to enable displaced persons in Afghanistan survive the harsh winter. She also discussed the potential for collaboration on the transition to long-term development activities in Angola.

Expressing gratitude on behalf of the beneficiary populations in Afghanistan, Begum Aga Khan said: "Portugal's support came at a crucial time. Without it the situation would have been much, much worse for the 70,000 people helped.

Describing both the progress of the rehabilitation work and the challenges ahead, she said "we are expanding agricultural programs and in some areas, improving food security, and also beginning to tackle problems of water-borne diseases through our water and sanitation programs".

The situation, however, remains fragile", she noted. "Risks to health and livelihood remain and certain geographic areas of great need are receiving less donor attention".