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UNICEF ready to meet urgent needs of children affected by Indonesia quake

Health, water, sanitation, education and protection are main priorities

JAKARTA, INDONESIA, 2 October 2009 – UNICEF emergency personnel are on the ground in the Indonesian province of West Sumatra to ensure that the urgent needs of children are met in the aftermath of Wednesday’s earthquake – up to one-third of those affected are believed to be children.

 “Every one of those children is acutely vulnerable to potential disease, lack of shelter, disruption to education, and the traumatic effects of living through such an experience,” said UNICEF Country Representative in Indonesia, Angela Kearney.

UNICEF is working with the Indonesian government and other UN agencies to provide assistance for up to 50,000 families – including making available water pumps, water storage equipment, 40,000 jerry cans and 40,000 hygiene kits, the provision of protective services and safe places for children, supplying 250 school tents, schools-in-a-box, and recreational kits which help children re-establish a sense of normalcy. These initial supplies are expected to reach the quake zone in the next 24 hours.

“Children are always the most affected by emergencies, and it is critical that they have access to clean water, and are protected from the threat of diarrhoeal diseases, acute respiratory infections and outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles, polio and tetanus,” said Ms. Kearney. “At the same time, we must ensure that other services such as education are re-started as soon as possible, to help children regain a sense of normalcy in the aftermath of this tragedy.”

According to initial government estimates, Wednesday’s earthquake, which measured 7.6 on the Richter-scale, left nearly 500 people dead and forced tens of thousands of people to leave their homes in the coastal provincial capital of Padang and surrounding highlands. Access to the affected area is limited due to the availability of only a single airstrip.

UNICEF has been present in Indonesia almost continuously since 1948. In cooperation with the government and local non-government organizations, UNICEF has assisted children with the difficult challenge of adjusting to a radically altered life after emergencies. This includes the world’s biggest humanitarian assistance for the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which killed more than 130,000 people in Indonesia's Aceh, the northernmost tip of Sumatra island.

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:

Edward Carwardine, UNICEF Indonesia,
Tel + 62 812 123 7252;
E-mail: ecarwardine@unicef.org 

Geoff Keele, UNICEF East Asia Pacific,
Tel + 66 2 356 9407;
E-mail: gkeele@unicef.org

Patrick McCormick, UNICEF New York,
Tel + 1 212 326 7426;
E-mail: pmccormick@unicef.org




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