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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 will set up safe learning spaces with tents and provide essential learning packages for the children who have no school to go to.

Since the cyclone hit on May 3, UNICEF has been distributing food, water, medicines and shelter equipment. UNICEF water and sanitation experts are also concerned that the breakdown in the power supplies and sanitation systems may lead to a high risk of infections and water-borne diseases such as cholera and dysentery.

UNICEF has 130 staff in country, 9 zonal offices and a headquarter office in Yangon.

To donate to the Cyclone Nargis disaster, please go to http://www.unicefusa.org/myanmar or call 1.800.4UNICEF.

About UNICEF

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 http://www.unicefusa.org.


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SOURCE U.S. Fund for UNICEF
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
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