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UNICEF prepares supplies for quake-affected school children in Tajikistan

DUSHANBE, 14 August 2006 – Thousands of children will be going back to school in Tajikistan in the first week of September as usual. But for some the start of the school year is in doubt.

The earthquake that rocked Qumsangir, 180 km south of the capital Dushanbe on 29 July has left 5,000 children without classrooms, as 13 of the 44 schools in the area are severely damaged.

UNICEF Representative, Yukie Mokuo visited the affected sites on 8 August alongside Tajikistan’s Deputy Prime Minister Mavlonova Khairinisso Yusufovna and Minister of Education Rahmonov Abdujabbor Azizovich. The team found that many classrooms are unsafe and will not be ready for the beginning of the school year.

“Plans for repair and reconstruction are being discussed by the Government,” said Mokuo. “UNICEF stands ready to provide school-in-a-box kits, school desks and chairs for a number of affected schools before school resumes in early September.” 

Children are the most affected by the recent earthquake. There is a threat of a possible outbreak of water-borne diseases, as the area relies solely on a damaged irrigation canal as its source of water supply for cooking and drinking. Sanitation conditions are also poor.

Immediately after the earthquake, UNICEF sent initial emergency supplies worth $10,000 containing hygiene kits, water purification tablets, towels, jerry cans and high protein biscuits to the affected areas.  Another batch of supplies, mostly hygiene items, will be distributed next week in partnership with international non-governmental organizations working on health care and hygiene promotion. UNICEF and its partners have also assessed water and sanitation and are working to ensure their long-term rehabilitation.

The Government of Tajikistan is working to rebuild the damaged schools with support from the Education for All Fast Track Initiative, a global partnership between donor and developing countries to ensure universal primary education by 2015.  UNICEF, together with the World Bank, will work to ensure that the restored schools are child-friendly.

For 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 156 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.

For more information, please contact:
Ruth Leaño, Programme Coordinator, UNICEF Tajikistan: Tel + 992 372 218261, rleano@unicef.org




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