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UNICEF India chief reaffirms commitment towards Bihar’s children

PATNA, 6 September 2008 – With the humanitarian crisis due to unprecedented floods in northern Bihar continuing the UNICEF India Country Representative Karin Hulshof today reaffirmed the UN agency’s  commitment to work with the government and partners to provide relief to the flood-hit people of the state, especially the most vulnerable children and women.

 “In any disaster, children and women are most vulnerable to disease and distress. We heard from the government that the flood affected children and women are their top priority,” she said at a visit to the state capital yesterday. “We were in Bihar yesterday, we are there today and will be there tomorrow," she added, emphasizing UNICEF’s continued and long term support to the women to children of Bihar.

In a meeting with R.J.M. Pillai, IAS, Chief Secretary, Government of Bihar (GoB) responsible for overseeing the relief efforts, Hulshof said that UNICEF will continue to partner with the government and others in the flood-affected districts through the response as well as the rehabilitation stage. “Our endeavour will be to support the government to build back better,” she said.

The meeting was also attended by S. Vijayaraghavan, Development Commissioner, GoB, Deepak Kumar, Principal Secretary, Department of Health and Family Welfare, and Anshul Arya, Additional Commissioner, Home.

Earlier, while flagging off five truckloads of relief material from the Institute of Public Administration and Rural Development, she said that UNICEF’s immediate priority is to work with the government to ensure that children and women receive medicines, supplementary nutrition, clean drinking water and access to sanitation.

UNICEF relief material that include life jackets, medical tents for childbirth, over 500,000 water purifying tablets, 200-litre capacity water tanks, over 2,500 bags of bleaching powder, 65,000 oral rehydration salt (ORS) and other materials like Albendazole tablets, buckets and mugs, tarpaulin, Vitamin A, water tanks, first-aid kits, midwifery kits and health kits have already reached the worst-affected districts. Besides, UNICEF has provided mobility support for deployment of 44 doctors and 29 paramedics from the districts not affected by floods to flood-affected districts. A disease surveillance system has also being set up with UNICEF’s support in five of the worst affected districts.

For addressing the special nutritional needs of children and pregnant and lactating women, 16 temporary Anganwadi Centres are being set up and more are planned. Working with the government, UNICEF is supporting a massive campaign to vaccinate children in relief camps against measles and polio and provide Vitamin A supplementation that will help increase their immunity levels. Setting up of water storage tanks, chlorination of drinking water and trainings for promotion of hygiene practices are also being provided. 

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:

Geetanjali Master, Communication Specialist, UNICEF India
Tel: +91 -98 -181 -05861, Email: gmaster@unicef.org

Alka Gupta, Media Consultant, UNICEF India
Tel: + 91 – 98 - 101 - 16226, Email: algupta@unicef.org





3 September 2008:
UNICEF correspondent Elizabeth Kiem reports on the situation of displaced flood victims in Bihar.
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