BEIJING, 23 April 2013 - With more than 190 deaths and over 12,000 injuries counted so far – and remote communities affected being reached by Government rescue teams – the full scale of devastation following the Lushan County earthquake in Sichuan province is becoming clearer.
UNICEF is now finalizing plans with government partners to intensify and accelerate efforts in child protection and welfare, mother and baby health, young child nutrition, hygiene and sanitation. According to 2010 Census data, there were 26,000 children under the age of 18 in Lushan County.
With support from its Hong Kong Committee, UNICEF on Monday allocated US$75,000 for emergency obstetric and neonatal health equipment for local health facilities.
Some communities damaged by Saturday’s 7.0 earthquake were also affected by the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake. It is thought that young children may be reliving the trauma of five years ago all over again.
“The Government of China has launched a very impressive effort to provide for the most urgent needs in response to a very powerful earthquake,” said Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF China Representative. “We are impressed as well by the immediate and generous outpouring of support coming from civil society and the private sector in response to this tragic disaster.”
“Our thoughts should focus first and foremost on children whose lives have been torn apart. They need our urgent and intelligent support in order to bounce back from the trauma they have experienced,” said Ms. Mellsop.
UNICEF is working with the State Council National Working Committee on Children and Women (NWCCW) to strengthen existing Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) near the epicentre. It will also support mobile child welfare outreach teams in surrounding communities to help connect vulnerable children with available services.
After the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake, UNICEF and NWCCW set up 40 CFS throughout the earthquake zone, including two in Lushan County.
In consultation with government partners, UNICEF is also readying support for mother and baby health services in 34 local health facilities, measles-mumps-rubella and hepatitis immunization campaigns, infant and young child feeding assistance, hygiene kits and mobile latrines.
“We are providing support to our partners to intensify and accelerate existing programmes for children. In the wake of this disaster we want to continue building better systems and practices that will improve children’s lives over the long term,” said Tim Sutton, UNICEF China Deputy Representative.
“For example, our community led approach to ‘total sanitation’ will be strengthened and expanded to meet urgent needs while also creating lasting improvements in community health and hygiene by mobilizing parents, teachers, local government and children in the effort.”
Over the weekend UNICEF posted a set of action points on how parents can best support children following emergencies on its micro blog. The tweet proved extremely popular and was shared more than 47,000 times. http://www.weibo.com/1749268803/zt3ZL7A1g
UNICEF works in more than 190 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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