|© UNICEF/SD04/F. Kilford|
|UNICEF supplies go out to an emergency|
COPENHAGEN, Denmark/PANAMA CITY, Panama, 10 August 2005 - Following the opening of its first emergency hub in South Africa in 2003 and in Dubai in 2004, UNICEF has opened its third regional warehouse facility in Panama. With these regional hubs and its main warehouse in Copenhagen, UNICEF is able to cover the supply needs of 320,000 people in emergencies anywhere in the world, any time of the year.
The region is prone to natural disasters –tropical storms and flooding have hit Panama, Guyana, Venezuela, Colombia and the Caribbean this year so far. The establishment of a UNICEF emergency supply hub in Panama will speed up delivery of supplies for emergencies and help to relieve freight costs within the region.
The hub, a shared facility with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), will be located in the Colon Free Trade Zone, situated at the entrance to the Panama Canal. Due to its position, the hub will have access to four important ports in the Caribbean and one in the Pacific (via an 89 km overland truck/rail link).
‘This partnership in Panama with the IFRC is beneficial for both parties,” comments Soren Hansen, Warehouse Manager in UNICEF Supply Division, “By sharing warehousing facilities we cut overhead and benefit from the other organizations’ expertise, meaning that more resources can be devoted to children and their families.’
Running costs will be shared equally with the IFRC, and an initial stock worth over $200,000 is being established. These supplies are mainly bulky emergency items, including: 8,000 blankets, 4,000 emergency travel kits, tarpaulins, 4,000 cooking sets, 1,000 long-lasting insecticidal nets, tents, 100 School-in-a-Box kits, 100 recreation kits, and visibility items. These supplies will support UNICEF capacity to meet the immediate emergency needs of approximately 20,000 people.