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UNICEF in Myanmar: Rapid response critical to saving lives

Thousands feared dead and thousands more are without shelter or drinking water

NEW YORK, May 5 2008 – UNICEF is undertaking urgent preliminary assessments of the devastation caused by Cyclone Nargis, which struck southeast Myanmar on Saturday, killing thousands and injuring tens of thousands. UNICEF has dispatched five assessment teams to three of the affected areas and life-saving supplies are being moved into position.

UNICEF will work with partners and the government to provide access to clean water, safe sanitation and improved hygiene, and will seek to protect children and assist them in returning to school as soon as possible.  Immediate needs are likely to include water purification tablets, plastic sheeting, cooking sets, bed nets, emergency health kits and an emergency nutrition response. Prior to the disaster, UNICEF had begun stockpiling crucial supplies in country.

Preliminary reports suggest that thousands of people have been killed and thousands more are missing. Electrical lines are down, affecting delivery of services and aid, blocking roads and access to rescue vehicles.
Women and children make up more than 60 per cent of Myanmar’s population, and are likely to be prominent among those affected.  Experience shows that children are less able to physically defend themselves against such forces of nature and are highly vulnerable to the dangers that follow in their wake.

UNICEF has been present in Myanmar since 1950, with nine zonal offices and a head office in Yangon.


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 further information:

Patrick McCormick, UNICEF New York tel: +1 212 326 7426, pmccormick@unicef.org
Miriam Azar, UNICEF New York, tel: +1 212 824 6949, miazar@unicef.org






5 May 2008:
UNICEF Deputy Director of Emergency Programmes Kari Egge describes what UNICEF is doing to help Myanmar children affected by Cyclone Nargis.
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6 May 2008:
UNICEF Representative in Myanmar Ramesh Shrestha discusses UNICEF's emergency response to the devastation caused by Cyclone Nargis.
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