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Tsunami disaster – countries in crisis

Myanmar's children at risk for deadly diseases

YANGON, Myanmar, 30 December 2004 – UNICEF and the government of Myanmar are working in close coordination to assess the impact on the country of last Sunday’s tsunami ocean surge.

Myanmar representative Carroll Long said UNICEF staff and government officials were gathering information on casualties and damage inflicted by the tsunami and expected to have details soon.

“It takes time to reach some of these remote parts of the coastline,” said Ms. Long. “But we’re getting a lot of cooperation from the authorities.”

Initial United Nations reports said at least 90 people were killed in Myanmar by the ocean surge which wreaked havoc and death across South Asia and Somalia and Tanzania.

Reports say the Tanintharyi Division, Ayeyarwady Division and Rakhine State were the hardest hit areas of Myanmar. However, no precise figures of the casualties on these islands are available.

UNICEF staff is already on the ground in these areas with basic emergency supplies. Additional materials are being prepared. “We are preparing assistance to those areas [by bringing in] both health and clean water supplies. We really are concerned about the situation of children these areas, in particular, their access to clean water,” said UNICEF Communication Officer Jason Rush.

A particular concern of UNICEF staff members on the ground is the threat of malaria. This disease is already a problem in the country, and the current situation provides fertile breeding ground for the disease.

Anti-malarial drugs were distributed earlier this year by UNICEF, but more will have to be made available to the survivors of the tsunami.




29 December 2004: UNICEF Myanmar Communication officer Jason Rush gives the latest update regarding the destruction caused by the tsunamis

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