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UNICEF REPORT: Desperate Conditions for Children in Camps Without Clean Water as Cyclone Aftermath Worsens
Date:5/11/2008

NEW YORK, May 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The situation for children continues to worsen in Myanmar as thousands of children have been separated from their families, many more are living in desperate conditions in relief camps, and some are drinking water from ponds covered with dead bodies, a UNICEF report stated today.

The information is contained in a new situation report received from UNICEF's 10 offices in Myanmar. It details the most urgent needs of women and children and clearly shows the magnitude of devastation in the delta region.

In Bogalay Township, ponds are covered with dead bodies of humans and animals. Currently, people are trying to pump water from the pond, which can be bleached, but it can only serve the nearby communities.

Also in this township, hospitals are overcrowded with up to 6,000 patients every day. The very grave threat of water-borne diseases is apparent with more people visiting hospitals suffering from deadly diarrhea and dehydration. About 20,000 people from this township are displaced and living in 50 camps.

In Mawlamyinegyun Township, UNICEF reports that 50 percent of villages were damaged out of 757 villages, and 20,000 people are currently staying in 20 camps. UNICEF is sending additional emergency supplies, expected to reach the area today.

The situation is also desperate in Pyapon Township where 16,000 people have been displaced, now living in 35 camps. Conditions in these camps are appalling: in one camp there are only five latrines for 3,500 people. People in this area are suffering a severe shortage of food, insufficient shelters and they are drinking water from contaminated ponds.

A priority concern for UNICEF is the identification of unaccompanied and separated children, as well as family tracing and unification. In all regions, the number of children who have been orphaned by the disaster or separated from their families is rapidly increasing. So far, UNICEF has identified at least 2,000 of these children from the Laputta Township, and it is expected that number of children will continue to rise. UNICEF is working to ensure these children have safe shelter and that their basic needs are met. UNICEF staff have already begun the process of trying to trace the families of these children to reunite them.

UNICEF RESPONSE

The risk of life-threatening diarrhea and infectious diseases increases dramatically with every day. Children are highly susceptible to these problems and their impact is graver when the sufferers are under-nourished.

"If there was ever a clearer sign that every second counts for children in Myanmar this is it," said Caryl M. Stern, President, U.S. Fund for UNICEF. "This is a critical time for the children and families affected by the cyclone. The UNICEF team on the ground in Myanmar will continue to work around the clock to ensure children are provided for."

At present, UNICEF's priority is to provide life saving essentials to children and their mothers:

* On Saturday, UNICEF's Supply Division in Copenhagen packed 30 emergency

health kits that will provide drugs, medical supplies, and basic medical

equipment for 300,000 persons for 3 months. Other medical supplies,

including intravenous glucose, thermometers, masks and gloves are also

on the flight, which is a commercial plane to fly from Amsterdam

Sunday, 11 May 23:30, expected to Bangkok Mon 19:50. Will be transferred

to Yangon ASAP.

* Another shipment of nutrition supplies will be flown from Paris, via KLM

on Sunday, 11 May, including fortified therapeutic milk. On Monday

UNICEF will share a charter with UNHCR from Dubai into Yangon with 540

family water kits. Another flight arriving Monday will be carrying 32

tons of provisions including 20 large tents, essential drugs, and oral

rehydration therapy.

* A UNICEF flight containing three million water purification tablets,

good to purify five million liters of contaminated water, enough for the

needs of 200,000 people for one week, landed on Friday and will be

distributed following a customs check.

* UNICEF is constructing latrines and digging wells in the hardest hit

areas.

* UNICEF is providing water purification tablets, oral rehydration

therapies, essential drugs for infectious diseases and mosquito nets,

but the quantities currently available are not sufficient to meet needs.

UNICEF staff in Myanmar have been able to distribute emergency supplies in the most affected regions using pre-positioned stock in the country prior to the cyclone, as well as with supplies purchased in Myanmar. However, given the scope of the disaster, "We need the supply pipeline to increase exponentially," said Stern.

UNICEF is one of the few international organizations that has a well-established, on-the-ground presence in Myanmar. UNICEF has worked in the country since 1950 and has 130 staff on the ground spread across nine zonal offices with a head 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 UNICEF
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