Massive flooding in South East Asia affecting millions
UNICEF responding to immediate needs of region’s children
Bangkok, Thailand, 24 October 2011 – Heavy seasonal rains and frequent cyclones have led to massive flooding across South East Asia affecting over eight million people.
745 people are reported dead as a result of the flooding, including many children. In Cambodia alone, 80 children have died, mostly from drowning.
In Thailand, millions of people are affected with tens of thousands of people in flood-affected provinces are living in makeshift shelters. Logistical constraints in Thailand remain a major challenge in reaching affected communities as more than 200 major highways and roads are impassable.
In the Philippines, the provinces of Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac and Nueva Ecijia in Central Luzon, have been badly impacted with half a million families affected by Typhoons Nesat and Nalgae.
The most urgent needs for children are clean water, hygiene supplies to prevent the spread of disease, food supplies and safe places in evacuation centres for children to play.
In many of the affected countries, the school year was scheduled to begin this month, but massive damage to school infrastructure and supplies will mean hundreds of thousands of children may miss weeks or months of school.
In Cambodia, over 1,300, or 17 per cent of all schools in the country, are affected by the floods. Roughly 75% of these schools were not able to open for the new academic year on 1 October, affecting 455,000 children. In Thailand, with school scheduled to resume on 1 November, floods have affected over 3,000 schools and educational institutes causing an estimated US$ 83 million in damage.
Education is critical in establishing stability for children during times of crisis and provides a sense of normality when everything else is being turned upside down.
UNICEF has conducted rapid assessment missions with governments and partners in a number of countries to assess the major needs of children are and to support governments to meet those needs.
In Vietnam, UNICEF is providing water and sanitation supplies such as 800,000 water purification tablets, 900 kg of Chloramin B, 14,000 bar of soap, 2,000 jerry cans for water collection, 2,000 water filters, as well as emergency education support to affected provinces.
In Thailand, UNICEF is working with the government and Save the Children to establish child-friendly spaces in a number of the large evacuation centres to ensure that children have safe places to congregate and play. This is especially important given how long many families have already been dealing with the impacts of the floods.
In Cambodia, efforts are underway to provide immediate assistance to families in need, including providing jerry cans for safe water storage, water purification tablets, ceramic water filters and soap. UNICEF is also supporting mobile health teams in affected provinces, through health services, to reach full-term pregnant women and get them to health facilities.
In the Philippines, UNICEF has provided 5,500 water and hygiene kits to families affected by the typhoons and flooding, as well as emergency education materials. UNICEF is also providing Ready to Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTF) for up to 1,000 severely acutely malnourished children.
Geoffrey Keele, UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office, +662-356-9407, email@example.com