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26,000 children of Lushan County, Sichuan, seriously affected by massive earthquake

2013-04-23

UNICEF strengthens support for Government efforts in child welfare, health, nutrition, hygiene and sanitation

Beijing, 23 April 2013 - With more than 190 deaths and over 12,000 injuries counted so far – and remote communities affected only recently being reached by Government rescue teams – the full scale of devastation following the Lushan earthquake is becoming clearer.

UNICEF is now finalizing plans with government partners to intensify and accelerate efforts in child protection and welfare, mother and baby health, young child nutrition, hygiene and sanitation. According to 2010 Census data, there are 26,000 children aged 0-17 in Lushan County.

Yesterday, with support from its Hong Kong Committee UNICEF allocated US$ 75,000 for emergency obstetric and neonatal health equipment for local health facilities.

Some of the communities damaged by Saturday’s 7.0 earthquake were also affected by the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake. It is thought that young children may be reliving the trauma of five years ago all over again.

“The Government of China has launched a very impressive effort to provide for the most urgent needs in response to a very powerful earthquake,” said Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF China Representative. “We are impressed as well by the immediate and generous outpouring of support coming from civil society and the private sector in response to this tragic disaster.”

“Our thoughts should focus first and foremost on children whose lives have been torn apart. They need our urgent and intelligent support in order to bounce back from the trauma they have experienced,” said Ms. Mellsop.

UNICEF is working with the State Council National Working Committee on Children and Women (NWCCW) to strengthen existing Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) already operating near the epicentre of the earthquake. It will also support mobile child welfare outreach teams in surrounding communities to help connect vulnerable children with available services.

After the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake, UNICEF and NWCCW set up 40 CFS throughout the earthquake zone, including two in Lushan County.

In consultation with government partners, UNICEF is also readying support for mother and baby health services in 34 local health facilities, measles-mumps-rubella and hepatitis immunization campaigns, infant and young child feeding assistance, hygiene kits and mobile latrines.

“We are providing support to our partners to intensify and accelerate existing programs for children. In the wake of this disaster we want to continue building better systems and practices that will improve children’s lives over the long term,” said Tim Sutton, UNICEF China Deputy Representative. “For example, our community led approach to ‘total sanitation’ will be strengthened and expanded to meet urgent needs while also creating lasting improvements in community health and hygiene by mobilizing parents, teachers, local government and children in the effort.”

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About UNICEF

UNICEF has saved more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization. We work tirelessly to help children and their families, doing whatever it takes to ensure children survive. We provide children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, nutrition and food security, education, emergency relief and more.

UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations and helps children regardless of race, religion or politics. As part of the UN, we are active in over 190 countries – more than any other organization. Our determination and our reach are unparalleled. Because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive.

For further information:

Stefanie Carmichael, Communications Specialist, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8866; Cell: (647) 500-4230, scarmichael@unicef.ca.
Tiffany Baggetta, Director, Communications and Brand, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8892; Cell: (647) 308-4806, tbaggetta@unicef.ca.