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UNICEF calls for aid to tsunami-hit countries

Xinhua News Agency, 28 December 2004

The United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) is rushing relief supplies to the countries severely hit by massive ocean flooding triggered by Sunday's earthquake.

The world body is also working to meet the urgent needs of hundreds of thousands of people who survived the tsunamis but now need shelters, water, medical supplies and other urgent assistance,according to a UNICEF press release issued here Tuesday.

With millions of people affected in India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka,Thailand, the Maldives and other countries, UNICEF and other UN agencies have been working with governments to assess pressing priorities and provide immediate assistance, the press release said, adding that Sri Lanka and Indonesia are likely to have the greatest need for humanitarian support.

"Hundreds of thousands of people fought to survive the tsunamison Sunday. Now we need to help them survive the aftermath," the press release quoted UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy as saying.

"We're concerned about providing safe water, which is urgent inall these countries and about preventing the spread of diseases. For children, the next few days will be the most critical", he said.

In Sri Lanka, UNICEF has already responded to government request for shelter supplies, providing more than 30,000 blankets and sleeping mats as well as t-shirts and other articles of clothing from local emergency stocks, the release said.

In Indonesia, UNICEF staff are part of a larger UN assessment team that has headed into Aceh province to identify urgent needs.

In India, UNICEF is supporting relief efforts led by the state and local authorities as well as the national government.
In the southern state of Tamil Nadu, UNICEF is providing hundreds of thousands of water purification tablets, 1600 community water tanks (500 liters each), 200,000 sachets of oral dehydration salts, medical supplies sufficient to serve 30 health centers, and 30,000 blankets.

Other Indian states affected by the tsunamis report no need for additional assistance at this time.

In the Maldives, which was hit by the tsunamis, UNICEF and UN sister agencies are working with the government to coordinate an international relief effort that will include the immediate provision of water purification supplies, food, clothing for children, shelter supplies, and other basics.

In Thailand, Bangladesh, and Myanmar UNICEF is supporting Government-led efforts to meet localized needs. The impact of the disaster was not as widespread in these countries, although a more complete picture is still emerging.



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