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News note

UNICEF boosts relief efforts to tsunami-struck Solomon Islands

GIZO, SOLOMON ISLANDS, 5 January 2010 – UNICEF Pacific is providing immediate support to the victims of a tsunami that hit Rendova and Tetepare Islands in the Solomon Islands on 4 January.

UNICEF Pacific was already working in Gizo on reconstruction of schools affected by the 2007 tsunami.  Following  reports that Rendova Island has been severely affected with hundreds of houses damaged and large areas completely inundated the children’s agency  dispatched a rapid assessment team to Rendova and Tetepare Islands by boat

There are 3600 people living on Rendova Island.

Emergency supplies that had been pre-positioned following the 2007 Tsunami are poised to be utilized.  These supplies allow access to adequate sanitation, safe water and basic health care.   UNICEF is also preparing materials and staff so that children, tremendously vulnerable during natural catastrophes, are protected.  UNICEF materials and advisors will assist so that children are able to continue learning and studying, and be provided safe recreation areas while their caretakers turn to rebuilding their lives.

“This is the second major disaster affecting Western Province of Solomon Islands in the course of three years,” said UNICEF Pacific Representative Dr. Isiye Ndombi.  “Although it is still unclear how great the devastation has been this time, it is clear that the psychological trauma for children and adults experiencing two tsunamis in such a short period will be significant.”

“Fortunately UNICEF Pacific is already on the ground in the area and able to provide immediate support to the people of Rendova and Teperare and other islands possibly affected.   It will take several days however until we know the full extend and consequences of this tsunami because these islands are very remote and difficult to access.”

On Rendova Island itself UNICEF Pacific is in the process of reconstructing 19 schools affected by the 2007 Tsunami and has pre-positioned emergency supplies in the capital Honiara to address water, hygiene, health, education, child protection and psycho-social recovery issues in emergencies. In addition to the rapid response team already dispatched to Rendova and Tetepare Islands, two Emergency Specialists from UNICEF Pacific are travelling today from Fiji to Solomon Islands to provide additional support to relief efforts.

UNICEF Pacific has been working with reconstruction of schools and sanitation infrastructure in Western Province of Solomon Islands since April 2007 and is on track to complete reconstruction of 110 schools in the province by the end of 2010. The 2007 Tsunami in Solomon Islands affected more than 37.000 people including 18.000 girls and boys, left 54 dead and caused heavy damage to thousands of homes, more than 200 schools, 2 hospitals and several health facilities in Western Province.

For more information, please contact:
Tomas Jensen, Communication Specialist
Tel + 679 9925606,
E-mail: tjensen@unicef.org




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