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UNICEF Concerned About Emotional Distress of Children in Myanmar
Date:5/12/2008

Child-friendly spaces set up in camps sheltering people affected by Cyclone

Nargis

NEW YORK and BANGKOK, Thailand, May 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Young victims of Cyclone Nargis that have lost or been separated from their families are receiving protection and care in child-friendly spaces in camps established by UNICEF.

In hard-hit Laputta Township alone, UNICEF is currently trying to identify the parents of 24 children sheltering with people they do not know.

Children are among the most vulnerable in this disaster. Lack of access to clean water and poor sanitation, inadequate shelter and poor nutrition pose particular threats to children. This leads to an increased risk of diarrhea, which can be deadly to children living in precarious conditions such as these. Flooding can also be a source of mosquito breeding and can lead to outbreaks of malaria and dengue fever, which are endemic in Myanmar.

Even before the cyclone struck more than a week ago, about one in three children in Myanmar were malnourished.

The child-friendly spaces can also serve as makeshift schools while UNICEF works towards getting children back to school in time for the opening of the school year on June 1. In addition, UNICEF has ordered large quantities of "schools-in-a-backpack", a more mobile version of the "school-in-a-box" kit used in emergency situations around the world.

"In any situation where you have children living under extremely stressful conditions, both physically and emotionally, it is important for their welfare that they are provided with a space where they feel safe and provided for -- where they can begin to return a little bit to normal life," said Ramesh Shrestha, UNICEF Representative in Myanmar.

According to UNICEF, up to 90 per cent of the schools in the affected areas have been damaged to some degree. This adds up to some 3,000 primary schools and more than 500,000 pupils. UNICEF w
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SOURCE U.S. Fund for UNICEF
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