October 2008, Children bear brunt of earthquake tragedy
BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan, 7 October 2008 – Hundreds of children and their families have been left homeless and need urgent assistance following the severe earthquake that struck eastern Kyrgyzstan on 5 October.
Forty-three children were reportedly killed in the quake, which jolted the village of Nura in a remote mountainous area on the Chinese border. The fatalities in this village alone represented more than half of all reported earthquake deaths.
UNICEF Representative in Kyrgyzstan Timothy Schaffter pointed out that homeless families now face coming snows and severe frosts.
Pre-positioned relief supplies
United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations in the Kyrgyz Republic are assisting the Minister of Emergencies to provide relief to quake victims.
Tents, kitchen and household sets, water-purification tablets, baby packs, winter shoes and clothes for children, and first-aid supplies have already been sent to the affected village from UN emergency stocks pre-positioned in southern Kyrgyzstan.
In addition to its part in joint UN efforts, UNICEF is working with the Ministry of Labour and Social Development to identify and respond to the needs of quake-affected children. UNICEF is committed to providing psycho-social support that will help the most vulnerable young victims and their families deal with emotional trauma.
Children disproportionately affected
Although the school building in Nura is one of the few buildings left standing, normal schooling is not expected to resume for some time. “UNICEF’s ‘School-in-a-Box’ will be used in a growing tent camp to help restore normality to the lives of children,” said Mr. Schaffter.
While limited access to affected areas is hampering assessments and relief operations, UNICEF and its partners expect that the number of people in need of assistance will increase over the next few days as more information becomes available.
“We are expecting that children will be disproportionately affected and possibly require further assistance,” noted Mr. Schaffter. “We are prepared to provide more support.”