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One year on, children of Bam still face challenges - Alert to broadcasters

Rebuilding after earthquake provides opportunity for making the city of Bam a better place for children, UNICEF says

Embargoed until: 00:01 GMT 25 December 2004

NEW YORK/ BAM, IRAN,  26 December 2004 -  One year after the devastating earthquake in Bam, Iran, that took more than 30,000 lives, left some 80,000 people homeless and reduced the city to rubble and dust, the well-being of the children of the city must be the government’s top priority, UNICEF said today.

“The tragedy that took place in Bam has provided an opportunity to introduce things that will make life better for children, like child-friendly schools, improved access to early child care and better water and sanitation facilities, especially for girls,” said Carol Bellamy, UNICEF Executive Director.  “Everyone in Bam has had their lives turned upside down by this earthquake, but we have to make sure that children are given the support they need to get on with their lives.”

With a massive amount of rebuilding still necessary, many of the 24,000 children currently attend school in one of the over 100 temporary pre-fabricated units, half of them supplied by UNICEF.

Since the earthquake, UNICEF focused on helping children get back to school by providing tents as temporary classrooms, 416 school in a box kits and 56 recreation kits, as well as training more than 1200 teachers in psycho-social support.  UNICEF is also introducing life skills and hygiene education, child-friendly school principles and counseling.   Washing facilities and latrines – an essential feature for girls to stay in school – have also been provided.

Schools are being conducted in two shifts, one in the morning, and one in the afternoon to take advantage of the limited classroom space.  UNICEF has procured two buses equipped as mobile libraries and will train 60 librarians to service 56 schools. Science and computer laboratories will also be equipped by the Agency.  UNICEF arranged preparatory course for 400 university entrants as they would otherwise not be able to continue their education.

The process of healing children’s well-being is both an outside and an inside job.

“In addition to the efforts to reconstruct the city, our role, as UNICEF, is also to ensure that children’s experiences and trauma are dealt with properly and that a

new hope is created for their future,” said Kari Egge, UNICEF’s representative in Iran.   “Psycho-social programmes are restoring children’s life, bringing them back to school and releasing their positive energy.”

Because the water system was almost completely destroyed, UNICEF initially provided 16 water bladders, 2,000 emergency latrines, and waste disposal for 100,000 people.  On a daily basis, UNICEF is delivering pipes for the city’s 435 km new water network, an investment of around US$7.5 million.

“The key challenge now is to accelerate the reconstruction of schools, health centres and other facilities so the energy and the desire of the children is harnessed, said Ms. Egge.  "This will further contribute to their healing process and to the normalization of life for all the people of Bam.”

UNICEFwill continue to work with the UN country team and other humanitarian partners who are providing generous support to the children affected by the Bam earthquake.

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Attention broadcasters: 

The b-roll package is available on thenewsmarket.com on the 22nd of December

For further information, please contact:

Simon Ingram,  UNICEF Media  tel:  +1 917 459 8193  singram@unicef.org
Miranda Eeles, UNICEF Iran  tel:  +98 9123 710365, meeles@unicef.org
Kate Donovan, UNICEF Media tel:  +1 917 796 9845 kdonovan@unicef.org




Attention Broadcasters

The b-roll package will be available 6 p.m. EST 22 December at thenewsmarket.com

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