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Nepal earthquake one week on: UNICEF warns of disease risk for children

2015-05-02

Photos and video can be downloaded here: http://uni.cf/1HH6SbO 

KATHMANDU, NEPAL, May 2, 2015 - One week on from the earthquake in Nepal, UNICEF says the health and well-being of children affected by the disaster are hanging in the balance – as many have been left homeless, in deep shock and with no access to basic care. With the monsoon season only a few weeks away, children will be at heightened risk of diseases like cholera and diarrhoeal infections, as well as being more vulnerable to the threat of landslides and floods. 

"The earthquake has caused unimaginable destruction," said Rownak Khan, UNICEF Deputy Representative in Nepal. "Hospitals are overflowing, water is scarce, bodies are still buried under the rubble and people are still sleeping in the open. This is a perfect breeding ground for diseases."

"We have a small window of time to put in place measures that will keep earthquake-affected children safe from infectious disease outbreaks – a danger that would be exacerbated by the wet and muddy conditions brought on with the rains," said Khan. "That's why it's so crucial to get essential medicine, medical equipment, tents and water supplies out to these areas now."

"As days become a week, we must focus our attention on continuing to save the lives of the children in Nepal who survived this devastating earthquake. Many of them, along with their families, are scared to go home for fear of their homes collapsing. So they are living outside where the threat of water-borne disease is heightened," said David Morley, UNICEF Canada President and CEO. "The outpouring of support from Canadians has been critical in helping UNICEF to reach the most vulnerable children and we encourage Canadians to continue donating in the days to come so we can continue this life-saving work."

The April 25 earthquake flattened more than 130,000 homes and left three million people in need of food assistance. Some 24,000 people are currently staying in 13 camps in Kathmandu. In a country where more than 40 per cent of children are stunted, fears for children's nutrition are rising.  At least 15,000 children with severe acute malnutrition require therapeutic feeding. There is also an urgent need for children in the 12 most affected districts to get back to their normal routine by setting up child-friendly spaces, opening schools and providing access to basic services, such as health and water.

UNICEF's response

As soon as the earthquake struck one week ago, UNICEF used its pre-positioned relief supplies to mount an emergency response and was able to provide aid, including tents to serve as emergency clinics at hospitals, tarpaulin for shelter, water trucking services in informal camps, water purification tablets and hygiene kits.

UNICEF is broadening its response so that children in the most severely affected communities, including those in hard-to-reach areas beyond Kathmandu, are provided with lifesaving services and supplies.

In the past week, UNICEF has:

  • Flown in more than 80 tons of aid, including tents, plastic sheeting, blankets, nutrition supplies, vaccinations and other life-saving medicines. 
     
  • Set up child friendly spaces in informal camps, to offer support to help children recover from their experiences, as well as a safe place where they can play and learn. 
     
  • Delivered aid to remote areas outside the Kathmandu valley – including in Kavre and Gorkha districts, where UNICEF teams provided thousands of people with soap, water purification tablets, tarpaulins and buckets. In Dhading district, hygiene and family kits and water purification tablets have been dropped to seven remote villages using helicopters. 
     
  • Set up psychological support services in Gorkha, Kaski, Sindhuli, Kavre, Ramechhap and Kathmandu.

Life-saving information being broadcast over Nepal national radio
On Saturday live on-air programs begin on national radio aimed at providing life-saving information and also expert counselling for children, women and families living in remote parts of the districts hit by the earthquake. The programs will be aired four times throughout the day. 

UNICEF has launched a US$50 million appeal to support its humanitarian response to the earthquake in Nepal for the next three months.

UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Orlando Bloom appeals for support

Lending his voice to the children of Nepal, UNICEF Ambassador Orlando Bloom, who has visited Nepal twice with UNICEF, has recorded an appeal urging support for UNICEF's emergency efforts. The video can be accessed here.

To donate, please go to unicef.ca or call 1-877-955-3111. All donations made to UNICEF Canada between April 25 and May 25, 2015 will be matched by the Canadian government.

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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.