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UNICEF delivering warm clothing kits in high-altitude areas

Islamabad – December 8: With the freezing temperatures of the northern Pakistan winter now producing  snow across a large swathe in the mountains above 5000 feet, the need to deliver items to help earthquake-affected families who remain in the high altitude villages is critical.

Children living above the snowline are at particular risk from acute respiratory infections in any winter season, and keeping them warm and dry in the coming months is crucial.

UNICEF started delivering the first batch of over 50,000 warm clothing kits specially packed in 4 sizes for children, each kit containing a padded jacket, a hat or shawl, socks and snow boots. Over 100,000 more kits with a unit cost of US $20.00 each are on the way. 

UNICEF Representative Omar Abdi said, “The needs of the affected populations are huge and urgent - and nothing is more urgent than providing now for children’s health and wellbeing, since children are extremely vulnerable at times like these.”

Deliveries to the most remote locations have been prioritized so that the items arrive before the roads are blocked by snowfall. They are being distributed by partner NGOs such as the National Rural Support Programme (NRSP). In the last few days NRSP has been targeting the hill villages set above 7000 feet on the steep slopes of the Jehlum River valley in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

In Sudhan Gali which lies at an altitude of 7,500 ft. in Bagh district, 14,500 kits have been handed out during the last three days. Another 5,400 kits are being distributed in another high area called Topi. Children in these areas can be seen wearing their new clothes, brightly-coloured boots on their feet.

In the tented villages at valley level in Kashmir and North West Frontier Province (NWFP) where some 170,000 people made homeless by the quake are now living, UNICEF is distributing kits to help survivor families with their hygiene needs. These are designed to decrease the risk of communicable disease resulting from inadequate sanitation and crowded conditions.

Women volunteers are distributing the sets of items, handing out a blue cotton carrier bag to all women in the tents. Inside there are toothbrushes and toothpaste, towels, soap, nail clippers, cotton gauze and sanitary products.

The volunteers give a personal hygiene lesson as they demonstrate the kit contents, showing how the nail clippers are used and talking about keeping teeth clean and using the soap to wash hands after defecation and before eating. Thousands of these kits, each costing about US $11 are now being distributed, out of a bulk order of 150,000.

The combined price tag for these deliveries of warm clothing and hygiene kits is nearly US $5 million. For the key sectors of shelter, water and sanitation, health and education, UNICEF supplies worth US $ 28 million have been delivered or are in the pipe-line.

This procurement has drawn on funds raised in response to the Earthquake Emergency Flash Appeal, comprising donations from governments and from the general public through UNICEF National Committees. To date UNICEF has received US $61 million or 66 percent of the amount requested under the UN appeal.




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