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UNICEF sends emergency supplies to Tajikistan

Power cuts and severe water shortages threaten the lives of three-and-a-half million children

DUSHANBE , 12 February 2008 – UNICEF has dispatched emergency supplies for more than US$200,000 to meet the immediate life-saving needs of children and women in Tajikistan.

Tajikistan is facing the harshest winter in three decades and is in dire shortage of water and gas supplies.  The combined energy shortage and severe cold weather has a significant impact on the health of children under-five, particularly newborns.

“Our immediate concern right now is to urgently provide life-saving measures and assistance to children and women,” said Ruth Leano, UNICEF’s Deputy Representative, in Tajikistan.

Of the estimated seven million people affected by the crisis, approximately half are children, and close to one million are children under the age of five. Children and women, who are most vulnerable to the cold and  hunger and require urgent life-saving assistance to be able to survive.

Since the onset of the severe weather and the energy shortage over the past weeks, UNICEF has quickly dispatched emergency health kits, jerry cans, baby blankets, hygiene sets, high protein biscuits, and generators to child and maternity hospitals and residential child care institutions.

In Tajikistan, about 120,000 of 180,000 newborns are born in rural areas. Premature babies account for almost 15 per cent of newborns who  are at risk of hypothermia.

Children in all 3,800 primary schools and 400 kindergartens learn in extremely difficult conditions, as most schools have almost no, or very limited, heating.

Tajikistan’s Ministry of Health reports that acute respiratory infections including pneumonia  have increased by two-fold and maternal mortality has also doubled in comparison with the same period last year. There are reports of some newborn deaths in maternity departments of hospitals owing to  electricity cuts and the cold weather.

UNICEF works closely with non-government organizations and joins other UN agencies in a joint appeal.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 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:
Parveena Muhammedkhajaeva, UNICEF, Tajikistan: +992 48 701 14 89, 701 14 90, pmuhammedkhajaeva@uncief.org




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