UNICEF airlifts emergency supplies for school children in Mongolia
Six convoys to fan out to emergency areas in coming weeks
2 March 2010, Ulaanbaatar -- Urgently needed supplies to assist nearly 4,000 school-age children in the hardest hit areas of the dzud winter emergency in Mongolia were airlifted over the weekend in a joint effort by UNICEF and the Government of Mongolia.
The initial dispatch of emergency assistance will be followed by six overland truck convoys during the next few weeks, which will fan out to school dormitories in 22 villages in the six hardest-hit provinces of Khuvsgul, Uvs, Zavkhan, Gobi-Altai, Khovd and Bayan-Ulgii to reach children of rural families. In total, the airlift and six convoys will carry combined supplies worth US$137,000.
The children’s agency noted that it is seeking $2.8 million and the current shortfall is $1.3 million - the aim is to deliver emergency supplies to more than 40,000 children.
The supplies, including woolen blankets, warm footwear, hygiene kits and educational materials, are destined for children who live in dormitories in the remote rural countryside in the western part of the country where the dzud winter emergency has taken its most devastating toll on herder families. The assistance is aimed at the most poorly heated and equipped dormitories as identified by local and national government authorities.
“We are redoubling our efforts to provide essential emergency items and educational materials for school children who are living in remote dormitories as they lack access to heating facilities, food and medical treatment. Protecting children from diseases and malnutrition will be key to our planned interventions over the coming weeks,” said UNICEF Representative Rana Flowers.
A joint monitoring team from UNICEF and the Government of Mongolia, which accompanied the airlift this weekend, is currently on the ground to ensure that the assistance is delivered swiftly, reaching the children most in need.
In response to a call from the Ministry of Education, UNICEF last month immediately provided more than US$45,000 to repair broken heating systems in18 educational institutions nationwide housing over 17,000 children.
UNICEF will continue to assist in the provision of humanitarian aid to children in the most affected provinces. The impact of severe weather conditions is predicted to continue until spring, and food insecurity and acute respiratory disease is expected to increase.
Weeks of freezing temperatures and heavy snows have left more than half of Mongolia’s 21 provinces in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. The Government of Mongolia has declared disaster status in 12 provinces, with temperatures continuing to hover around -40C.
UNICEF, as part of a larger United Nations response, is collaborating with the Ministries of Education, Culture and Science (MECS) and of Health (MOH) and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). The UN allocated US$3.7 million for humanitarian assistance from its Central Emergency Response Fund last week.