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Press release

Pakistan children face deadly combination in weeks ahead

UNICEF Appeals for Over $64 Million for First Six Months of Relief

NEW YORK, 13 October 2005 – Keeping children who survived the devastating Pakistan earthquake alive in the days and weeks ahead must be a priority of the international relief effort, UNICEF said today. 

“With wintry conditions arriving in the higher elevations, children are facing a potentially deadly combination of cold, malnutrition, and disease,” said UNICEF Executive Director Ann Veneman.  “Most housing has been destroyed in the hardest-hit areas, so the survival of thousands of young children is now at stake.  Shelter, nutrition, and health care for children must be a priority.”

Routine immunization coverage in the heart of the quake zone stands at about 60 per cent of young children, meaning that hundreds of thousands are unprotected against deadly diseases such as measles.  UNICEF and the government are planning a quick-impact measles campaign in the region to protect children who have not been reached previously.  Measles is one of the greatest threats to child survival in emergency situations, especially when their immune systems have been weakened by exposure and malnutrition.

UNICEF is also moving to deliver Vitamin A to the relief effort, which helps boost children’s immune systems.

“Our focus right now is on providing basic aid – shelter, clothing, water supplies, food, and emergency medical supplies,” said Veneman. “We’ve emptied our emergency stockpiles inside Pakistan, and we’re distributing those supplies in places like Mansehra, where we’ve established a forward operations centre. The road to Mufazzarabad was cleared Wednesday, so we expect supplies to begin moving faster up that road.”

A supply of high protein biscuits for children arrived in Peshawar from Copenhagen on Thursday.  UNICEF supplies include blankets, children’s boots and sweaters, water containers, plastic tarpaulins, tents, medical supplies, and blankets. Efforts to create a safer environment for children are also under way, with UNICEF protection staff beginning work in the affected areas with NGOs, setting in place measures to address the needs of children identified as alone or orphaned.

UNICEF is moving additional staff and supplies into Pakistan from its regional offices, working in close coordination with the Government of Pakistan and other UN agencies. Teams with staff members focusing on the water and sanitation, education and protection concerns have been deployed by road to Muzaffarabad and Mansehra where they will create bases from which to distribute and monitor supplies.

Nearly half of those affected are younger than 18. A quarter of the population lives under the poverty line.

UNICEF’s appeal for $64.3 million forms part of the overall UN Flash Appeal.

*   *   *

For nearly 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 157 countries to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for poor countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, 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.

Attention broadcasters: A studio interview with UNICEF's representative in Pakistan, Omar Abdi, will be available on www.thenewsmarket.com/unicef. APTN and Reuters may also feed the interview.

For further information, please contact:

Gordon Weiss, UNICEF Media, Tel: 212 326 7426
e-mail: gweiss@unicef.org

Kate Donovan, UNICEF Media Tel: 212 326 7452
e-mail: kdonovan@unicef.org




Related links

10 October 2005:
Dan Toole, Director of UNICEF's Office of Emergency Programmes, talks about the response to the earthquake.

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