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UNICEF Readies to Assist Mexican Flood Victims
Date:11/2/2007

Estimated 400,000 Children Affected; Health Concerns Include Possible

Dengue and Cholera Outbreaks

NEW YORK, Nov. 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In what is being described as one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the country, officials with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the Mexican Government estimate that one third of those affected by the recent floods in the Mexican state of Tabasco are children.

Of particular concern to UNICEF and the Mexican Ministry of Health is the high risk of water borne diseases such as cholera and dengue that thrive in flood conditions and disproportionately affect children.

UNICEF is projecting that up to 70 percent of Tabasco's schools are out of commission and have confirmed that stocks of educational supplies and emergency school kits are ready to be distributed. The international children's agency will also provide basic personal hygiene and household items to the evacuees and offer psychosocial support where possible.

"UNICEF is providing families with emergency supplies and is preparing to assist with the immediate and long term needs of the population," said Caryl M. Stern, president and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. "We are offering support to local authorities in order to ensure that children return to some sense of normalcy as soon as possible."

The flooding occurred as the result of several days of heavy rain in the region. The latest official information reports that more than one million people are now affected by the flooding, that is 50 percent of the total population with flooding covering almost 80 percent of the state. One hundred percent of the state's crops are now underwater.

A state of emergency has been declared for all 17 municipalities of Tabasco including the capital city of Villahermosa which was evacuated yesterday by members of the national army, after the dams of the Grijalva River broke and flooded the city. More than 700,000 sandbags have been used for water retention purposes.

Emergency relief efforts have also involved relocating evacuees to temporary shelters and providing food and potable water supplies to the affected population. The Mexican government has distributed 55,360 mattresses and 13,885 emergency food stuffs.

So far 280 temporary shelters have been equipped to accommodate individuals evacuated from the flooded areas of the state.

Tabasco is located in southeast Mexico, bordered to the north by the Gulf of Mexico; to the south, by the state of Chiapas; to the east, by the Republic of Guatemala and Campeche, and to the west, by the state of Veracruz. It covers an area of 24,578 square kilometers.

Heavy rains from Tropical Storm Noel have also affected parts of Haiti and the Dominican Republic forcing evacuations just as some of the displaced were starting to return home after severe flooding last month. In collaboration with other agencies and partners, UNICEF is monitoring and assessing the overall health and nutrition situation in the flood affected zones, especially access to safe water.

To make a donation to help UNICEF's emergency relief in Mexico please go to: unicefusa.org or call 1-800-4UNICEF.

ATTENTION MEDIA OUTLETS

Caryl M. Stern, president and CEO of U.S. Fund for UNICEF is available for interviews pertaining to UNICEF's relief efforts and the immediate needs in the region.

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 US Fund for UNICEF
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