UNICEF appeals for global community to rise to the survival challenges facing children as flood waters drop
DHAKA/NEW YORK/GENEVA, 12 August 2004 - After overwhelming floods some of the poorest children in the world are trying to rebuild their lives while facing increasing risks of disease. The devastating effects of the continuing Monsoon rains are threatening the development gains made by people in Bangladesh, which is one of the densest populated countries in the world.
Millions of households have had their safe drinking water, food and shelter snatched away. Children who are exposed, thirsty and under nourished will be particularly vulnerable to disease and diarrhoea for the immediate future.
UNICEF is concentrating efforts to address the immediate survival needs of affected children, while trying to ensure that long term health, education and sanitation is not neglected. The agency’s US$ 54.946 million component of the UN’s flash appeal launched today in Dhaka highlights infant and young child food needs disease and illness prevention as well as funding requests to restore safe water supplies and latrines.
‘The type of shock that children and their families have suffered in Bangladesh will continue to threaten their survival and well being for months, if not years, to come,’ said Morten Giersing, the UNICEF representative in Bangladesh. ‘We know that there are at least 1 million malnourished children amongst the affected population. We are taking immediate steps to access the most vulnerable to ensure basic health and nutrition as a life saving priority. As the flood waters recede the amount of dangerous pathogens from sewage concentrated in every cup of water is likely to increase. These are immediate concerns as diarrhoea will be a major killer if it is not treated.’
UNICEF has already answered requests from the government by providing vital supplies. By today the agency had provided 1 million packets of oral rehydration salts, 25,000 bags of IV fluid as well as water containers and cleaning materials for food shelters and health clinics. UNICEF has staff working in all 64 affected districts of the country.
‘We need more support, and quickly,’ said Mr Giersing. ‘Malnutrition contributes to two thirds of the child deaths in Bangladesh and increasing rates translates into large numbers of children dying or having a life of impaired development.’
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For further information, please contact:
Naseem-Ur Rehman, UNICEF Bangladesh Chief, Comm. & Information
Tel: 9335807, 9336701/209, 0171 595045,
Kate Donovan, UNICEF New York, 212 326 7452
For nearly 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 158 countries to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for poor countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, quality basic education for all boys and girls, access to clean water and sanitation, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of governments, businesses, foundations and individuals, and through our National Committees for UNICEF we sell greeting cards and other products that help advance humanity.