UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Lucy Liu meets earthquake survivors in Pakistan
By Nina Martinek
NEW YORK, USA, 1 March 2006 - UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Lucy Liu visited the scene of the earthquake in Northern Pakistan to highlight the ongoing needs of the survivors. On the trip, she spoke with children and learned how UNICEF is supporting the recovery process.
Lucy Liu travelled to Balakot, one of the worst affected towns in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province (NWFP), where some 200,000 houses were damaged, and more than 200 children died when the local school collapsed in the quake on October 8, 2005.
Around 73,000 were killed by the massive earthquake and some 3.3 million people in the region were left homeless.
"While in Balakot, I saw UNICEF's efforts to alleviate the suffering of so many of the surviving children," said Liu. "In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, UNICEF's priority was to ensure the survival of these children and their families. They needed food, water, shelter and health care."
Now, almost five months since the quake, UNICEF is gearing up for its Welcome to School campaign. UNICEF's priority is to get children back to school as quickly as possible and provide learning opportunities to approximately 500,000 children, which will also help them cope with the trauma they have suffered. UNICEF says returning to a classroom environment provides children with stability, structure and a sense of normalcy.
"I believe there could be a change for the better here," said Liu, who returned from Pakistan last month. "Children who never went to school before are coming now. It is my hope that increased enrollment will lead to increased progress."
At the UNICEF warehouse in Islamabad, Liu was filmed packaging clothing for children which she later distributed at a camp for displaced families in Gari Habibullah. She also helped immunise children against polio.
Appearing on the Oprah Winfrey Show today, Lucy Liu showed the footage and shared her experiences visiting UNICEF programmes in Pakistan. Interviewed by Oprah, she spoke of the plight of the children she met and encouraged viewers to support UNICEF’s ongoing work to rebuild their damaged homes and schools.
“Lucy Liu was able to broadcast a message about UNICEF’S mission and the critical needs of children in Pakistan,” said Lisa Szarkowski, Managing Director for Public Relations at the US Fund. “By partnering with the Oprah Show, Lucy and UNICEF were able to reach millions of people with a really important message about the situation in Pakistan and the good work that’s being done by UNICEF and other organizations to help children."