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Myanmar Cyclone a Children's Catastrophe - UNICEF

UNICEF Appeals for More than $8 million for medicines and other lifesaving


NEW YORK, May 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As the death toll from Cyclone Nargis climbs steeply, UNICEF is gravely concerned that the lack of shelter and safe drinking water, coupled with poor sanitary conditions, could significantly increase the death toll among children and other vulnerable populations, leading to a second wave of deaths.

With the death toll climbing well past 50,000, there is concern that disease could spread quickly, aided by warm weather and standing polluted water. In all, roughly 8-million children are in immediate danger.

"There is no time to waste when it comes to saving children's lives," said Caryl Stern, President and CEO, U.S. Fund for UNICEF. "With the lives of tens of thousands of children hanging in the balance, every second counts."

Noting that with one in three children malnourished in Myanmar, many children lack the ability to endure a catastrophe on such a massive scale. "This is quickly shaping up to be a children's catastrophe," said Stern.

UNICEF today outlined in a new document to the donor community the harsh impact the cyclone had on the children of Myanmar. Flood waters could be a source of mosquito breeding and lead to malaria and dengue fever outbreaks which are endemic in Myanmar. In addressing that and other priorities UNICEF today issued an appeal for immediate needs of $8.2 million.

"In any disaster, it is children who suffer most. Children have died; many are separated from their families, injured and traumatized. Vulnerable to hunger, disease and trauma, children and women in the affected areas require urgent life-saving assistance to survive," UNICEF says in the donor appeal.

UNICEF began responding within hours of the disaster, drawing on pre- positioned emergency medical supplies. Along with its partners, including sister UN agencies and international and national non-governmental organizations, UNICEF is working to respond swiftly and effectively to the crisis.

In the wake of a disaster that has left at least 1 million people homeless and some 24-million affected, UNICEF is gearing up for a massive relief and supply effort. Prepositioned supplies have already been distributed to address lack of access to clean water and poor sanitation, inadequate shelter and poor nutrition. The new appeal will pave the way for more supplies to reach the battered country once the supply pipeline opens up.

"We have the know-how and the logistical means. People support UNICEF because of our track record in the field," said Stern. "They know we will be there for children before, during and well after the emergency."

UNICEF has been present in Myanmar since 1950, with nine zonal offices and a head office in Yangon.

To donate to the Cyclone Nargis disaster, please go to: or call 1-800 4UNICEF.


For more than 60 years, UNICEF has been the world's leading international children's organization, working in over 150 countries to address the ongoing issues that affect why kids are dying. UNICEF provides lifesaving nutrition, clean water, education, protection and emergency response saving more young lives than any other humanitarian organization in the world. While millions of children die every year of preventable causes like dehydration, upper respiratory infections and measles, UNICEF, with the support of partnering organizations and donors alike, has the global experience, resources and reach to give children the best hope of survival. For more information about UNICEF, please visit

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