UNICEF is mobilizing US$20 million for immediate and longer term support to Cyclone affected children and womenDHAKA, 20 November, 2007: UNICEF is substantially increasing support to children and women in the districts worst affected by the recent Cyclone Sidr. Support is being strengthened in nutrition, water, sanitation, hygiene and essential medicines – the most vital needs according to five UN assessment teams reporting back from the worst affected areas.
UNICEF immediately deployed regular resources in the relief and response operations, and also received US$ 2.7 million from UN Centre Emergency Response Fund (CERF). Several donors including the Government of Japan, Canada, AusAid, Swedish SIDA, and the World Bank have expressed interest to support the organization’s cyclone response efforts. UNICEF National Committees are also contributing in the response efforts. UNICEF’s total programme response amounts to US$20 million.
Children are at the core of UNICEF’s response in nutrition, supplementary food, water, sanitation, hygiene and essential medicines. The organization is providing 92 metric tonnes of nutritious BP5 biscuits in six most affected districts: Patuakhali, Barguna, Barisal, Bagerhat, Pirojpur and Jhalokathi to reach 15,400 young children and 11,600 pregnant and lactating women in 48,700 families.
The safe water needs were addressed by 7.3 million water purification tablets (WPTs) supplied and 110,000 jerry cans being provided for carrying safe water with the Department of Public Health Engineering (DPHE). Adequate stock of essential medicines has been ensured with MoH in district and upazilla (subdistrict) health facilities to address the risk of disease outbreak in the affected areas.
Also, US$200,000 cash assistance were made available to both the ministries to transport medicines and safe water and to repair damaged tubewells and water sources. UNICEF is on the ground with WFP and UNDP to reach affected people with food and safe water.
With the winter chill gradually setting in, children require urgent life-saving assistance in the form of medical supplies, food, warm clothing and shelter. As part of non-food assistance 100,000 blankets, 60,000 children’s clothes, 60,000 family kits (containing 14 essential items) and 60,000 plastic sheets are being procured for use in the affected areas.
UNICEF is working with the Ministry of Education to help bring back normalcy in children’s lives by opening up temporary learning centres. Only in the government sector, 496 primary schools have been destroyed and 2110 were damaged by the cyclone.
With confirmed death count about to cross 3,000, many children may have been lost or separated from their parents. UNICEF is going to provide psychosocial support to 30,000 children in 6 most affected districts on tracking separated/distressed children. Referral to specialized agencies and support to integration with families are also part of the longer term intervention.
Speaking on his recent visit to the worst affected areas as part of a Joint UN Mission, UNICEF Representative Louis-Georges Arsenault referred to Charkhali in Patuakhali district: “The village on the riverbank is completely wiped away for a 3 kilometre stretch – not a single house, tree or structure is standing. There is total destruction of crops, infrastructure, and people’s livelihood. Children and families here are in acute need for food and shelter. Seeing the scale of the devastation was beyond all imagination.”
“But even in this crisis, the people of Bangladesh once again demonstrated their resilience not only in withstanding the loss but also through immediate hard work to rebuild their lives in the face of repeated natural disaster they had to endure this year. I was encouraged to note that small scale economic activities have already started in the affected communities. People are making utmost efforts to recover and return to normalcy from the blow they had to suffer only days before.”
Commending the efforts of the Government of Bangladesh, Mr. Arsenault said, an early action by the government in moving over a million people to safety helped save a lot of life. Recounting his experience from the field he added, “The rescue and relief operations by the government, Bangladesh Army and the fire brigade along with UN and NGO responses are very much in progress.”
Mr. Arsenault urged the international community to keep Bangladesh high on its priority as the rehabilitation following the devastating cyclone is going to need much support.
A joint statement earlier issued by the UN Heads of Agencies on return from field mission expressed solidarity with the people of Bangladesh. The statement pledged that the UN system will continue to provide relief and support to the affected population to meet the immediate needs of the affected people as well as in the longer term recovery phase.
For more information, please contact:
Sr. Communication Officer, UNICEF Bangladesh
Tel: 9336701-10/Ext. 397