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Supplies en route to assist children affected by earthquake in South Asia

© REUTERS/Zahid Hussein
A Pakistani family carries an injured relative in the town of Balakot, 9 October 2005.

By Maya Dollarhide

NEW YORK, 9 October 2005 - The destruction caused by the earthquake in South Asia continues to claim lives, amid news reports that children are among those trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings in the region.

The Associated Press and others have reported that students are among the injured or dead, and that in northern Pakistan, parents frantically tried to dig out up to hundreds of children who were caught under the debris when their schools collapsed.

UNICEF sprang into action just hours after the earthquake struck. UNICEF trucks loaded with emergency medical supplies, children’s clothing, water purification materials, nutritional supplements, and blankets and plastic tarpaulins are on route to northern Pakistan and other affected areas. 

The earthquake has gravely affected at least three countries, Pakistan, India and Afghanistan, killing upwards of thousands of children, women and men due to the initial quake and its aftershocks. The exact number of the dead is still unknown, as numbers are still climbing, and bodies are still being unearthed.

© REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
Kashmiri children sit outside their demolished houses after an earthquake in Uri, 100km (62miles) north of Srinagar, 9 October 2005.

UNICEF issues appeal

UNICEF is appealing for an initial $20 million for the survivors of the Pakistan earthquake. UNICEF’s priority is to make sure children and their families have the means to survive.

“This appeal means immediate action to save children’s lives,” said UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman, speaking from New York.  “Needed assistance includes medical care, clean water, nutritional food for infants, clothing, and shelter – the things that matter most in the critical few weeks after a disaster like this when children and their families have lost everything.”

UNICEF stressed that its first $20 million appeal will be revised in the coming days as its operation is refined in keeping with the Unite Nations operational framework and appeal.

Children are most vulnerable

Heavy damage occurred in Kashmir, the territory divided between India and Pakistan. Thousands have been killed by the earthquake or perished in landslides caused by the earthquake. In eastern Afghanistan, an 11-year-old girl was crushed to death when a wall in her home collapsed, as reported by Associated Press.

The Associated Press is also reporting that hundreds of schoolchildren were killed when their schools collapsed during the earthquake. News reports are saying that children and others may be still trapped under rubble.

Tens of thousands are being treated for injuries caused in the quake and its aftershocks. Homes, schools, mosques and other buildings have been destroyed or have been severely damaged. Beyond the psychical damage, children and their families could suffer from emotional trauma.  UNICEF is working to help these children regain some sense of normalcy.

“Beyond immediate relief, our focus is to get children back to school as soon as possible,” Veneman added. “We are all shocked by the news that children were killed as they sat at their desks. But very quickly it will be time to get those who survived back to their classrooms. School provides the very structure and rhythm that they’ve lost, a touchstone which will help overcome shock and trauma.”

The earthquake is the most powerful witnessed in Pakistan in over a century, according to local sources, including UNICEF Country Representative for Pakistan, Mr. Omar Abdi.




8 October 2005:
UNICEF Country Representative in Pakistan, Omar Abdi, talks about UNICEF’s emergency response to help children and their families affected by the earthquake, which struck at least three South Asian countries on 8 October.

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