UNICEF on the ground in Myanmar delivering critical supplies
NEW YORK, 6 May 2008 – Some 130 UNICEF technical and operations staff continued to travel to the areas affected by Cyclone Nargis today, identifying the greatest threats to children and women and delivering much-needed supplies.
“Time is of the essence,” said Ann M. Veneman, UNICEF Executive Director. “UNICEF had prepositioned emergency supplies, which staff in country are now distributing as quickly as possible, and more staff and supplies are on the way. In situations such as these, children are highly vulnerable to disease and hunger and they need immediate help to survive.”
In the wake of the disaster, lack of access to clean water and poor sanitation, inadequate shelter and poor nutrition pose particular risks to children. The risk of diarrhea increases and children are highly susceptible to this threat. Floods can also be a source of mosquito breeding and can lead to outbreaks of malaria and dengue fever, which are endemic in Myanmar.
UNICEF water and sanitation experts are also concerned that the breakdown in the power supplies and sanitation systems may lead to a high risk of infections and water-borne diseases such as cholera and dysentery.
Emergency supplies that UNICEF had prepositioned and is now distributing include: family health kits with medicine for 155,000 people, water purifying solutions, oral rehydration salts, tarpaulins, UNICEF family kits (which include cooking and cleaning implements and jerry cans), bleaching drums.
The provision of gender-appropriate, protected latrines for displaced persons at camps is another priority. In addition, UNICEF is concerned about orphaned and separated children and is working with partners and the government to ensure their protection.
Women and children make up more than 60 per cent of Myanmar’s population, and are likely to be gravely affected. Experience shows that children are less able to physically defend themselves against such forces of nature and are more exposed to the dangers that follow in their path.
UNICEF has been present in Myanmar since 1950, with nine zonal offices and a head office in Yangon.
For further information:
Patrick McCormick, UNICEF New York
Miriam Azar, UNICEF New York
Myanmar Cyclone Crisis 2008