France was given the responsability by the European
Union "to coordinate the whole aid from Europeans" to
help the countries of Asia, announced Interior
Minister Dominique de Villepin. The Minister for Health
Philippe Douste-Blazy will go on January 2nd in the
evening to Sri Lanka "to initiate an airlift there
between the zone touched by the tsunamis and France".
France will send the helicopter carrier Jeanne d'Arc and
the frigate George Leygues to Asia on Monday to provide
medical aid to the countries hit by the tsunamis,
Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said on Sunday in
an interview with the Journal du Dimanche.
"The urgency is to avoid a health disaster," the
minister said, announcing that the two warships as well
as an Airbus 310 carrying 12 tonnes of water purifying
material and medication would be sent on Monday.
The ships would have medical teams (16 doctors on the
Jeanne d'Arc), an operating theatre and five
In the same paper, Interior Minister Dominique de
Villepin announced the setting up on Sunday of a field
hospital in Sumatra staffed by 70 paramedics, and a
mission to identify victims by specialised teams from
the police and gendarmerie in Thailand and Sri Lanka.
On European co-ordination, the minister said the French
were "the first in Colombo" and "we are the most
numerous, that is why the European Union gave us this