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News note

UNICEF support gives relief to Somalia Tsunami victims

NAIROBI, 10 January 2005 - UNICEF is providing crucial support to help alleviate the suffering of communities in villages along the coastline of Northeast Somalia (‘Puntland’) most affected by the recent tsunami.
UNICEF is currently assisting 12,000 people in the villages of Hafun, Gara’g, Bender Beyla and Eyl on the north-eastern coastline of Somalia. In Hafun half of the homes were destroyed and inhabitants left without clean water, sanitation and food. Internally displaced persons in Hafun have been relocated from the school they'd been occupying and classes have resumed for 96 students.

‘’UNICEF has provided shelter materials and clean water and in collaboration with WHO, emergency medical care,’’ said UNICEF Somalia Emergency Officer, Bob McCarthy speaking by satellite phone today from Hafun, the hardest-hit area. ‘’Collaboration is also taking place with WFP, who are providing food assistance to children and with UNHCR on longer-term shelter needs. Restarting schools and increasing enrolment in the affected areas is a UNICEF priority to ensure the quickest possible return to normality for children.’’ The tsunami compounded the challenges facing the people in Puntland who were already struggling with the effects of a prolonged drought.

Hafun is predominantly inhabited by fishermen. Most homes near the coastline were destroyed. Displaced people are currently sheltering 300 - 400 metres from the shore under plastic sheeting provided by UNICEF. With local water sources contaminated, potable water is being transported by truck from 92 km away. UNICEF is providing assistance to an estimated population of 4,200 in Gara’g and another 600 in Bandar Beyla.

Security remains a key consideration. According to unconfirmed reports two occupants of a supply lorry sub-contracted by another UN agency were killed some 40 km from Gara'g yesterday. This is an indication of the risk involved in working in Somalia even in a humanitarian situation. UNICEF has appealed to local authorities to ensure adequate security for relief teams.

Among the highlights of UNICEF’s interventions are distribution of blankets, jerry cans, plastic sheeting, cooking sets, mosquito netting and soap to 3000 of the most vulnerable in Hafun; household chlorination and digging of latrines to prevent outbreaks of water borne diseases such as cholera; rehabilitation of damaged shallow wells and construction of new water sources; measles vaccination and the provision of vitamin A to prevent outbreaks and boost children’s immune systems

Eastern Somalia near the tip of the ’Horn’ was the worst hit in eastern Africa with the tsunami causing tidal surges and waves along more than 650 kilometres of coastline. The tsunami left at least 100 people dead in its wake in Somalia. So far no lives have been lost through water borne diseases, malnutrition or starvation, measles or other outbreaks or exposure resulting from the crisis.

For further information contact:

1.Siddharth Chatterjee, Senior Programme Officer, UNICEF Somalia. Email: schatterjee@unicef.org. Tel:  + 254-20-623950. Mobile: +254-733-617-923.

2.Denise Shepherd-Johnson, Communication Officer, UNICEF Somalia: Email: dshepherdjohnson@unicef.org. Tel: +254-20-623950/53/55/70.

Field interview opportunity: On 10 and 11 January 2005 UNICEF Somalia Emergency Officer,  Bob McCarthy, who can be reached via Thuraya phone at +8821-6511-02708 OR +8821-6511-24134. He will be available until the morning of 11 January.

Media visits:

Arrangements can be made through Communication Section, UNICEF Somalia Support Centre: +254-20-623950/53/55/70. Communication Officers: Denise Shepherd-Johnson, Cell - +254-722-719867, email: dshepherdjohnson@unicef.org  and Robert Kihara, Cell - +254-721-244-800, email: rkihara@unicef.org.

Journalists should give three to five days notice to ensure good planning for visit. Flights to Bossaso originate from Kenya on Wednesdays and Sundays. 

Hafun is one hour’s flight from the main UNICEF office in Bossaso, Northeast Somalia or 12 hours by road. It is east-south-east of Bossaso.




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