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UNICEF calls for Specific Actions to Assist Children Affected by Storm Agatha

© UNICEF Guatemala/2010/G. Arteaga












Guatemala, June 17, 2010 - UNICEF calls for six urgent and specificactions to be taken to assist children affected by tropical storm Agatha in Guatemala.The same basic principles can be applied during any emergency situation.


• Improve identification, registration and individualized care in shelters and affected communities.

• Return to school as soon as possible.

• Ensure food security and nutrition, focusing on children under five.

• Protect children from abuse, mistreatment and kidnapping.

• Prevent disease in shelters and affected communities.

• Ensure safe water and sanitation.

              (See details below)


"Implementation of these six basic and urgent recommendations will make it possible to effectively assist boys, girls and adolescents affected by tropical storm Agatha and prevent more tragedies," said Adriano González-Regueral, UNICEF Representative in Guatemala.


UNICEF has been assisting people affected by the emergency, especially children and adolescents, from day one, in coordination with the Government and the UN system.


During the first week after the emergency, UNICEF coordinated its response with national authorities, civil society involved in providing humanitarian aid and the United Nations in four priority areas: nutrition, water and sanitation, and child protection, immediately mobilizing 4,000,000 Quetzals (USD$ 500,000) and launching the search for additional funds. (See details below)


In the short term, UNICEF will continue to cooperate with the country in the rehabilitation phase with the financial support of the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund and the international community, strengthening its monitoring of the six recommendations made.



Improving identification, registration and individual attention in shelters and affected communities: This measure is essential to verify the status of each child or adolescent; to provide individualized and specialized attention to prevent any violations of their rights; to promote family reunion where necessary, to provide appropriate care to unaccompanied children, ensure their rehabilitation, health and welfare.


Return to school as soon as possible: The return to normal schooling, whenever possible, is one of the most effective ways to help restore normalcy in the lives of children. It contributes to psychosocial rehabilitation after the trauma of an emergency and helps parents to focus on reconstruction activities.

Food and nutrition security: We must strengthen nutritional surveillance systems, especially in shelters, to detect and prevent child malnutrition.


In cases where nutritional risk is found, specialized care should be provided by health services staff. Exclusive breastfeeding should be promoted for all children under six months of age and appropriate complementary feeding should be ensured for those older than six months.


Protection from abuse, mistreatment and abduction: Those responsible for the shelters, community and municipal authorities and national institutions responsible for the protection of children must increase their efforts in times of emergency to prevent mistreatment, abuse or kidnapping of children, especially girls and female adolescents. Parents and community members should report any attempted violations of children’s rights to the authorities.


Disease prevention: All boys, girls and adolescents affected by the emergency must receive specialized medical care to assess their condition and take the necessary steps for their recovery.


The health status of children should be monitored, with special emphasis on children under five, and vaccination, where appropriate, should be promoted.


Ensuring safe water and sanitation: Shelters and affected communities must have safe water and adequate sanitation (waste treatment and hygienic handling of food) to prevent diseases such as diarrhea and respiratory infections.




-       Nutritional Surveillance in shelters.

-       Appropriate treatment for children and women suffering from malnutrition.

-       Evaluation and promotion of breastfeeding and appropriate complementary feeding.

-       Provision of micronutrients in powder form.


Water, sanitation and hygiene

-        Operational, technical and financial support to assess the availability and use of drinking water in shelters and affected communities.

-         Support mobilization of health technicians to give advice to shelters and affected communities on safe water handling, disinfection and sanitation.



-       Promotion of the return to school where possible.

-       Specialized psycho-social support for children in shelters and within their communities.

-       Provision of backpacks with school supplies.


Child Protection

-       Assessment, analysis and monitoring of orphaned and unaccompanied children.

-       Verification of identity and social support.



According to the National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction (CONRED) the human victims and property damage caused by the activity of the Pacaya Volcano and the Tropical Storm Agatha as of 8 June were:

• 397,808 victims

• 133,102 people at risk

• 104,639 people affected

• 162,857 evacuees

• 27,823 people in shelters

• 113 people missing

• 154 people injured

• 174 deceased

• 39,160 damaged homes

As of 15 June CONRED reports 18,626 people in 184 shelters.


For more information

Parisa Nabili, pnabili@unicef.org, UNICEF Guatemala

Tamar Hahn, thahn@unicef.org, UNICEF Latin America and the Caribbean





UNICEF is on the ground in over 155 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.




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