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As Schools Reopen in Indonesia, World Vision Says Children's Basic Needs Still Not Being Met

- Children in hardest-hit areas remain at risk, warns World Vision

- World Vision to open 13 Child-Friendly Spaces to help children recover

- Aid agency calls on Indonesian government to prioritize its relief efforts to provide for children

PADANG, Indonesia, Oct. 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As schoolchildren in Indonesia's West Sumatra quake zone were called back to school today, aid group World Vision says these thousands of children affected by last week's earthquake remain the disaster's most vulnerable survivors. The organization is actively calling on the government of Indonesia and other humanitarian actors to prioritize relief efforts that meet the urgent physical and psycho-social needs of children in the quake zone. The most urgent needs include clean water and safe places to play and begin learning again, the agency said.

"From the terror of aftershocks to the vulnerability of their immune systems to the need to have a normal routine, children's vulnerabilities are magnified in a disaster like this," said Amelia Merrick, Operations Director for World Vision in Indonesia. "It's absolutely critical that emergency response teams make children's unique needs a priority. Even though the ground has stopped shaking, the West Sumatra quake's youngest survivors still face a daily struggle, both physically and psychologically."

Because of unsanitary conditions and lack of clean water or disinfectant, even minor injuries sustained in a disaster can become life-threatening without medical attention. In addition, fallen buildings, destroyed homes, and flooded paths or waterholes continue to pose safety hazards to children who are left unsupervised. Children need appropriate food, adequate water and sanitation, and shelter as soon as possible. Without these basics, children's immunity against disease will be vastly reduced.

As part of its 90-day emergency response plan, World Vision will open 13 Child-Friendly Spaces -- nine in Padang Pariaman and four in Kota Padang. Child-Friendly Spaces are structured, safe places where children can play with other children, relax in a safe place, learn basic skills to cope with the shocks and losses they've experienced, and receive informal education. The spaces are designed to provide psychosocial support to children after a disaster or conflict.

The Child-Friendly Spaces are run by community volunteers who receive training on child protection practices and psychosocial support skills from World Vision staff. The aid group has successfully established Child-Friendly Spaces in several recent disasters, including Myanmar, Darfur, and Pakistan.

In addition, World Vision's relief workers are distributing nearly 1,100 family kits throughout Padang and Padang Pariaman districts. The kits include items like blankets, soap, and tarpaulins. The team will also distribute more then 4,000 collapsible water containers to families in Padang Pariaman. The agency is appealing for USD$2 million to scale up its response and said the costs could increase once the full extent of the needs are known. World Vision aims to provide 10,000 households with emergency supplies.

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice.

SOURCE World Vision

SOURCE World Vision
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