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At least 54,000 children affected by cyclone Pam in Vanuatu

2015-03-14

NEW YORK, 14 March 2015 - It is estimated that at least half the population of Vanuatu has been affected by cyclone Pam. Of these, at least 54,000 are children.

Many homes in Vanuatu have likely been destroyed as they are built with natural and local materials such as thatched and corrugated roofs that are vulnerable to strong winds and floods.

Schools, churches and community halls are being used as emergency shelters. Many of these buildings are likely to have suffered structural damage. Lifeline facilities like hospitals, electrical utilities, water supply and telephone systems are most likely severely damaged.

Power and water supply has been affected across Vanuatu, including in the capital city Port Vila.

Other Pacific Island countries have been severely impact as well, including the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Kiribati.

UNICEF is on the ground in the affected countries, providing immediate assistance. Most urgent needs include the provision of water containers, purification tablets, soap and temporary sanitation facilities.

In Vanuatu, health centres have likely sustained severe damage and will need rebuilding and restocking with medical and nutrition supplies. Plans are under way to support the Government to do a major measles immunization campaign, given recent cases.

Schools are being used as evacuation centres, and UNICEF will be supporting children's education, including providing school in a box kits. Child friendly spaces will be set up in evacuation centres to provide children with psychosocial assistance.

UNICEF's immediate needs to assist the affected countries is at least US $2 million, initially covering support to water, sanitation, hygiene, health, education, nutrition and protection services, and including support for the high costs of logistics across this vast geographic area. 

Canadians can contribute to relief efforts by making a donation at unicef.ca.

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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 more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca.

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.