UNICEF responds to mounting crisis in Tajikistan
UNICEF emergency operation launched as power cuts and severe water shortages threaten large swathes of the Central Asian country
Dushanbe, Tajikistan, 14 February 2008 – Most children in Tajikistan are at risk because of a dire shortage of water and energy supplies, says UNICEF.
It is estimated that seven million people, mainly in rural areas, are struggling to cope with the severe winter weather and a lack of electricity. Half those affected are children, and almost one million are children under the age of five.
“Our immediate concern right now is to urgently provide life-saving measures and assistance to children and women so they can survive the severe cold,” said Ruth Leano, UNICEF’s Deputy Representative, in Tajikistan.
Tajikistan is facing its harshest winter in three decades and the combined energy shortage and severe cold weather has a significant impact on the health of children under-five, particularly newborns.
In Tajikistan, 120,000 of 180,000 annual births are in rural areas. Premature babies account for almost 8 per cent of newborns and are now at risk from hypothermia. According to government figures, only 19% of hospitals and health clinics in the country have electricity,
Children in the country’s 3,800 primary schools and 400 kindergartens are learning in extremely difficult conditions, as most schools have almost no, or very limited, heating.
Tajikistan’s Ministry of Health reports that acute respiratory infections including pneumonia have increased by two-fold and maternal mortality has also doubled in comparison with the same period last year. There are reports of newborn deaths in maternity departments of hospitals owing to electricity cuts and the cold weather.
UNICEF has dispatched emergency supplies worth more than $350,000 to Tajikistan to meet the immediate life-saving needs of children and women. These supplies include: health kits, jerry cans, baby blankets, hygiene sets, high protein biscuits, and generators for child and maternity hospitals and residential child care institutions.
UNICEF works closely with non-government organizations and has joined other UN agencies in an appeal. UNICEF is in particular need of funds to ensure the survival of children, and to assist those who have been worst affected.
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 please contact:
Parveena Muhammedkhajaeva, UNICEF, Tajikistan: +992 48 701 14 89, 701 14 90, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sema Hosta, Communication Officer,UNICEF, Tajikistan: +992 48 701 14 89, 701 14 90, email@example.com