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Indonesia is still struggling to cope with the aftermath of the December 2004 tsunami, which claimed more than 150,000 lives in the country. Schools, roads and water and sanitation systems were destroyed, and more than half a million people were displaced. A series of subsequent disasters have affected Indonesia, including earthquakes, another (much smaller but still deadly) tsunami, and outbreaks of polio and avian influenza. Amid these tragedies, UNICEF has played a key role in delivering humanitarian assistance to women and children.
Issues facing children in Indonesia
- Tsunami recovery is continuing with construction of new permanent homes and schools and repair/replacement of other infrastructure elements.
- Routine immunization coverage has deteriorated in the last few years.
- Indonesia’s HIV/AIDS crisis threatens to become a full-blown epidemic.
- Malaria strikes up to 20 per cent of Indonesians.
- Approximately 28 per cent of children under the age of five are malnourished.
- More than 100 million people lack adequate sanitation, and more than 40 million people do not have access to safe drinking water sources.
- Nationally, primary school enrolment rates are over 90 per cent and junior secondary enrolment rates are over 60 per cent, with no gender gap.
- Human trafficking is a serious problem. Each year, thousands of women and children fall victim to trafficking, including being forced or lured into the commercial sex trade.
- There are nearly 3 million children in the labour force, many in dangerous occupations.
Activities and results for children
- In regions devastated by the tsunami, UNICEF and its partners have provided basic health services, including vaccinations, micronutrient supplements, insecticide-treated bed nets and new ambulances, plus training and supplies for 2,000 midwives. These efforts successfully averted any outbreaks of disease among survivors.
- UNICEF established 21 centres offering recreation and psychosocial support for 20,000 displaced children.
- After the tsunami destroyed or damaged many schools, UNICEF and its partners created and furnished hundreds of temporary learning centres; supplied textbooks to 830,000 children; and paid teacher salaries for six months.
- More than 300 new permanent schools are being built by UNICEF in Aceh, the area hardest hit by the tsunami, and in Nias, struck by an earthquake in early 2005. The new schools will be more earthquake-resistant – and will be models of ‘child-friendly schools’ that act in the interests of the whole child.
- The routine immunization programme has been strengthened through training, updated manuals and new cold-chain equipment. Nearly 30 million children nationwide were vaccinated to halt an outbreak of polio that affected almost 300 children.
- Hundreds of health-care workers in eastern Indonesia were trained to manage cases of severe childhood malnutrition.
- In tsunami-affected areas, safe drinking water was supplied to more than 376,000 people. UNICEF is leading efforts to build permanent water and sanitation systems.
- Almost 2,500 children separated from their parents by the tsunami were reunited with their families or placed in foster care.
- The government has called for free birth registration for all newborns.