UNICEF Warns Thousands of Children Are At Risk
In A Second Wave of Fatalities, Children Will Be First Victims
NEW YORK/GENEVA, 19 October 2005 – UNICEF warned today that tens of thousands of children are in peril in remote earthquake-affected parts of Pakistan because of deteriorating weather, injury, and illness.
The agency said that immediate steps must be taken to boost the number of children being reached if a second wave of deaths is to be averted during the harsh winter months now arriving.
UNICEF said that as many as 120,000 children remain unreached in the mountains on the Pakistan side of the line of control, of whom the agency estimated some 10,000 could die of hunger, hypothermia and disease within the next few weeks.
“The relief effort is becoming more complex with each passing day,” said UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman, speaking from Copenhagen where she was visiting UNICEF’s global supply warehouse. “There are still too few helicopters to reach more than 1,000 remote villages with life-saving supplies that children urgently need. Where we do have supplies on the ground, we have too few humanitarian partners to deliver them to those most in need.”
“Temperatures have dropped and weather conditions are getting worse,” Veneman said. “Access to affected areas has been badly affected as roads have become clogged with mud and people fleeing the mountains with their injured. Tens of thousands of children are at risk.”
UNICEF said that in order to boost the relief effort and save lives, the following measures are urgently needed:
Increase the number, lift-capacity, and pilot pool of helicopters operating in the disaster zone, and improve logistics at major airports.
Formally establish large and well-resourced camps with clean water and adequate sanitation in lowland areas, in the hope that people who can trek out of the mountains will receive adequate winter accommodation.
At the same time, support alternative methods to reach remote villages through mule supply and foot columns for people who cannot or will not leave their homes.
Increase the control of traffic on sub-arterial roads.
Boost the number of national and international humanitarian partners on the ground in order to provide the support needed for a large humanitarian operation.
Where needed, provide emergency medical and hospital capacity to replace destroyed health facilities until the end of the winter.
Veneman said that under current circumstances, even if tents and blankets were to arrive at each remote village immediately children would still be at serious risk due to a lack of medical assistance, de-hydration because of bad water, and malnutrition.
“There is a significant threat of disease, with outbreaks of diarrhea already,” she said. “Given the intermittent shut-downs of the air corridor because of bad weather, the consequences for sick and injured children could be grave.”
UN Humanitarian Coordinator Jan Egeland has stated that the relief effort goes beyond the capacity of any single government, and the World Health Organization has warned of outbreaks of disease because of foul water and unsanitary conditions.
What UNICEF Has Done So Far
• Within hours of the disaster, UNICEF emptied its Karachi and Peshawar warehouses of blankets, nutritional biscuits, jerry cans, children’s clothing, shelter supplies, and medical equipment, and drove them to Mansehra.
• UNICEF is supporting government immunization teams in an immediate measles and Vitamin A campaign in the city of Muzaffarabad, and is supplying equipment for four large-capacity water treatment plants.
• Five UNICEF planes landed in Pakistan over the weekend, carrying thousands of blankets and nutritional biscuits. Another five planeloads are scheduled to land in coming days.
• UNICEF health, protection, water, sanitation, and logistics teams are working in Mansehra and Muzaffarabad, with more teams setting up operations in other towns in the quake zone.
• Emergency health supplies for 1 million people for three months are being packed for air transport to Pakistan.
• UNICEF is working to identify and register orphaned and separated children throughout the quake zone.
• Educational supplies are being sent from regional hubs in preparation for camp-based educational activities throughout the relief zone.
UNICEF Actions in India
• More than 500 tents equipped with wood-burning stoves are being delivered to re-establish primary health care facilities, maternal delivery rooms, and child care centres as well as to provide spaces for temporary education facilities in Uri and Thangdar, the two worst-affected districts. Seven community-sized tents are already en route.
• Two emergency health kits, each with drugs, supplies and basic medical equipment for up to 10,000 people over three months and 200 midwifery kits, each with enough medical supplies for up to 50 normal deliveries, are also being delivered.
• Around 17 tonnes of fortified biscuits and basic medical supplies, including 60,000 oral rehydration packets, 20,000 vaccination syringes and Vitamin A drops for 25,000 children are being airlifted from Port Blair to Kashmir.
• Some 250 School-in-a-Box kits, each containing education material for up to 80 students and their teachers, will begin arriving in Srinagar within days.
• Six 10,000-litre motorized water tankers, more than 1,000 water storage tanks, 20 water quality test kits and two mobile water testing units are being procured.
UNICEF’s appeal for $64.3 million forms part of the overall UN Flash Appeal. About a third on the UNICEF appeal has been funded so far.
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For nearly 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 157 countries to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for poor countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, 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.