UNICEF is collaborating with the government, local and international organizations to provide assistance to the children particularly those of the families that have lost their income source, their capacity to buy food, fuel or ensure health and education for their children. The hand-over of the vehicles to the representatives of the aimags’ governments was attended by Ms. Rana Flowers, UNICEF Representative and Mr B. J. Lkhagva, Head of the Office for Regional Development. In passing the vehicles Ms Flowers thanked in particular the Government of Luxembourg, whose generous contribution had made purchase of two of the vehicles possible.
“As was predicted, the costs borne by the largely poor communities are mounting as we move into Spring,” said Rana Flowers, UNICEF Representative. “These costs include the unacceptable loss of life. Children are dying and will continue to die if we fail to reach them urgently with the necessary food, nutrition, and health support. There can be no doubt that the Dzud has built on and made worse the existing urban / rural disparities in access to basic social services. Overcoming these disparities must continue to be a goal for development in Mongolia over the coming period”, she added.
According to UNICEF, the most recent health statistics emphasize the need for urgent attention to the humanitarian impact of this disaster. While an increase in the deaths of children under-5 years was noted already for both January and February of 2010 in the affected areas, it is the further increase in this figure for March 2010 that gives considerable concern and demands a concerted response. The health statistics for March indicate a 35-40% increase in infant and under-five child mortality in some of the dzud-affected areas. In the first three months of 2009 for example, an under-five mortality rate of 23.4 per 1000 live births was recorded. For the same period in 2010, under-five child mortality has already reached 28.7 per 1000 live births with a dramatic increase in the affected aimags reaching 39.7.
Because the children are dying from preventable causes such as acute respiratory infections (ARI) and complications, UNICEF will also provide essential health and nutrition items worth USD 495,000 to rural health facilities of dzud-affected 133 soums in 12 aimags. The essential medicines and equipment for aimag and soum clinics for early treatment of ARI, diarrhea and essential newborn care include oxygen concentrators and nebulizers, oral rehydration salt and zinc tablets, as well as baby warmers, newborn feeding tubes and midwifery kits. In addition, UNICEF is planning to deliver multiple micronutrient (MMP) tablets for mothers and MMP packs for children aged 6-24 months, iron syrup, child growth monitoring and promotion devices for soum health facilities, as well therapeutic foods for acutely malnourished children to be treated at aimag hospitals. Ms. Flowers added that UNICEF further plans to provide two months’ supply of fortified flour to children in 25 schools and 21 kindergartens in harshly-affected aimags.
To date, UNICEF has mobilized from its internal resources, as well as generous contributions from the UN CERF, the Governments of Australia, Luxembourg, US and Brazil: USD 1.61 million worth of assistance some of which has been used to deliver packages of essential daily use items, such as warm blankets, boots, recreational kits, hand sanitizers, soap and hygienic items for about 4,000 children staying in dormitories in 22 extremely-affected soums of Khuvsgul, Uvs, Zavkhan, Gobi-Altai, Khovd and Bayan-Ulgii provinces. A two-month supply of coal was rushed to help keep 135 schools and kindergartens warm in the hardest-hit eleven provinces. Furthermore, warm boots were delivered to over 3,200 children of grades 1-3 staying in dormitories in 104 dzud-affected soums.
In addition to the focus given to children of school age, UNICEF is responding to a call from Government for attention to the situation of young children at home with traumatized families. Therefore, in March 2010, UNICEF supported a series of training for 462 school, dormitory teachers, social workers, community representatives and parents in 21 soums of five provinces to equip them with the knowledge on psychosocial support to children and to the herder families facing dramatic losses. With the view to the importance of keeping the population informed and building the national capacity emergency preparedness over 20 professionals from the National Emergency Management Agency and the National Authority for Children were trained on the communication for development concept, development of content and key messages for family preparedness for natural disasters and emergencies.
Dzud is an unfolding disaster hence long-term support is needed for the recovery and future preparedness activities. The United Nations team in Mongolia is working together to address the concerns, to ensure coordination with partners, and to mobilize further resources to deliver crucial humanitarian, agricultural and early recovery support as the impact of this disaster continues to impact the poorest in Mongolia.
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org
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