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UNICEF concerned about emotional distress of children in Myanmar

Child- friendly spaces set up in camps sheltering people affected by Cyclone Nargis

NEW YORK/BANGKOK, 12 May 2008 - UNICEF is setting up child-friendly spaces in camps giving shelter to people affected by Cyclone Nargis. These spaces offer care and protection for children and young people especially those who have lost or been separated from their families.  Just in Laputta Township in the Irrawaddy Delta, UNICEF is currently trying to identify the parents of 24 children sheltering with people they do not know.

The child-friendly spaces can also serve as makeshift schools while UNICEF works towards getting children back to school in time for the opening of the school year on June 1. In addition, UNICEF has ordered large quantities of "schools-in-a-backpack", a more mobile version of the "school-in-a-box" kit used in emergency situations around the world.

"In any situation where you have children living under extremely stressful conditions, both physically and emotionally, it is important for their welfare that they are provided with a space where they feel safe and cared for - where they can begin to return a little bit to normal life" said Ramesh Shrestha, UNICEF Representative in Myanmar.

According to UNICEF, up to 90 per cent of the schools in the affected areas have been damaged to some degree. This adds up to some 3,000 primary schools and more than 500,000 pupils. UNICEF will set up safe learning spaces with tents and provide essential learning packages for the children who have no school to go to.

Since the cyclone hit on May 3, UNICEF has been distributing food, water, medicines and shelter equipment. In the wake of the disaster, lack of access to clean water and poor sanitation, inadequate shelter and poor nutrition pose particular threats to children. This leads to an increased risk of diarrhea which can be deadly to children living in precarious conditions such as these. Flooding can also be a source of mosquito breeding and can lead to outbreaks of malaria and dengue fever, which are endemic in Myanmar. UNICEF water and sanitation experts are also concerned that the breakdown in the power supplies and sanitation systems may lead to a high risk of infections and water-borne diseases such as cholera and dysentery.

UNICEF has 130 staff in country, 9 zonal offices and a headquarter 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 more information, please contact: 

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
Kate Donovan, UNICEF New York, tel:  + 1 212 326 7452 kdonovan@unicef.org
Véronique Taveau, UNICEF Geneva, tel: +41 22 909 5716, vtaveau@unicef.org
Miranda Eeles, UNICEF Geneva, tel: +41 22 909 5715, meeles@unicef.org

Note to Broadcasters: Download free broadcast-quality UNICEF news video from http://www.thenewsmarket.com/CustomLink/CustomLinks.aspx?GUID=94cfdf5a-3af5-41cf-837b-f88e77e6c638&bhcp=1





14 May 2008:
UNICEF correspondent Chris Niles reports on the struggles of the survivors of Cyclone Nargis.
 VIDEO  high | low

13 May 2008:
UNICEF correspondent Chris Niles reports on the growing threat of disease in Myanmar, in the wake of Cyclone Nargis. 
  VIDEO high | low              

12 May 2008:
UNICEF’s global Chief of Education, Cream Wright, discusses the importance of school in restoring a sense of normalcy for cyclone-affected children in Myanmar.
 VIDEO  high | low  

10 May 2008:
UNICEF Supply Division Director Shanelle Hall discusses how UNICEF’s main warehouse in Copenhagen is meeting needs in cyclone-ravaged Myanmar.
 VIDEO  high | low  

9 May 2008:
UNICEF correspondent Chris Niles reports on the immediate need for safe water in Myanmar’s cyclone-affected areas.
  VIDEO  high | low

video on demand
from The Newsmarket


15 May 2008:
UNICEF Representative in Myanmar Ramesh Shrestha gives an overview of the Cyclone Nargis relief effort.
 AUDIO listen

UNICEF Myanmar Chief of Child Protection Anne-Claire Dufay talks about helping children cope with life after the cyclone.
  AUDIO listen

9 May 2008:
UNICEF Myanmar Chief of Education Niki Abrishamian describes the damage that Cyclone Nargis has done to schools.
 AUDIO listen

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