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News note

UNICEF mobilizes child trauma experts

To Tsunami-affected areas in Thailand

PHUKET, 10 January - UNICEF said today that a team of specially trained child trauma experts from Thailand have been mobilized and are now commencing work in provinces hardest hit by the deadly Tsunumi.

The team of 36 child psychologists, psychiatrists, pediatricians and nurses will fan out in four provinces -   Pang Nga, Krabi, Phuket and Ranong - where large numbers of children have lost parents, relatives and friends, and have witnessed horrific scenes of destruction.    They will be working with teachers and children in schools, as well as making home visits to families who have borne the brunt of the disaster, including extended families caring for orphans.  Official government statistics report more than 300 Thai children have been orphaned.

With the government of Thailand in the forefront of the emergency response, many of the most critical emergency needs are now being met.  However, UNICEF assessments indicated that the psychological health of children affected by the Tsunami was now priority concern and would continue to be for the coming months.  

As part of the coordinated effort, Thailand’s Ministry of Health has supported crash course training for teachers selected from all six affected provinces to enable them to better help children to cope with the psychological impact of the Tsunami emergency.

“Providing teachers with practical guidance on how to work with children going through tremendous grief is a critical first step in their recovery.  Teachers can be equipped as a “front line” of trauma support,” said Inese Zalitis, UNICEF Representative for Thailand.

Information booklets on helping children cope with trauma have been printed as a matter of urgency. Simple messages for parents and other adults on how to care for children who are facing trauma already have been distributed in large numbers.

Key messages include the need for special attention, extra affection and giving children the opportunity to express their feelings; to talk about their experiences and the importance of keeping to regular routines, including going to school and maintaining regular eating and sleeping schedules.  This provides children with a sense of security and normalcy.   Other messages for parents include encouraging children to play and engage in other enjoyable activities to help them deal with stress.

UNICEF also said today that close supervision of children was important to detect extreme signs of distress as well as to protect children from any risks of children being abused.

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For more information, please call:

Madeline Eisner, UNICEF EAPRO +66 1 701 4626
Teresa Stuart, UNICEF Thailand +66 1 172 9902
Pichada de Jesus, UNICEF Thailand +66 1 8159929




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