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UNICEF mobilizing for Qinghai Earthquake Disaster


BEIJING, 15 April 2010 – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is mobilizing to send urgently needed relief supplies for children affected by yesterday’s massive earthquake. The response will be coordinated with other UN agencies. The quake heavily damaged parts of remote Yushu Prefecture, a region mostly populated by Tibetan herdsmen. The quake, which was measured 7.1 by Chinese scientists, destroyed much of Jiegu (Pop. 100,000), the main town of Yushu Prefecture.

As of this writing 617 deaths have been reported along with 9,110 injuries. Some 313 persons are missing and 100,000 are without shelter. On Wednesday night large numbers of Jiegu residents slept outside in sub-zero temperatures. The total population of Yushu Prefecture is 357,000 and the child population is 122,700.

According to Qinghai health authorities the maternal and child health hospital in Yushu County totally collapsed in the earthquake. There is an urgent need for medical supplies and childbirth equipment.
“We are organizing assistance to support the Chinese government’s disaster response with a focus on the special needs of children and women,” said Dr. Yin Yin Nwe, UNICEF Representative and UN Disaster Management Team Chair in China. "We are in constant consultation with our government partners to gather necessary information and it appears that there has been extensive destruction to homes, health facilities and schools.” 

According to local education bureau officials 80 per cent of primary schools and 50 per cent of secondary schools in Yushu have been severely damaged affecting 22,719 students and 1,086 teachers. Although the quake struck before the start of classes on Wednesday morning, about half of the students in the sparsely populated region attend boarding schools. Authorities have requested UNICEF support to provide school tents, warm clothing, quilts and learning kits. 

As of late Wednesday at least 56 students and five teachers had been reported killed in the quake. Many more students are missing and thought to be buried. Complete information is still difficult to obtain in the remote mountainous area on the border between Qinghai Province and Tibet.

The most urgent humanitarian needs right now are for food, water, tents, shelter, clothes, blankets, quilts, essential household items, medical supplies and rescue equipment. At this time of year in this mountainous region temperatures reach below freezing overnight. UNICEF has emergency stocks of school tents, children’s winter clothes and blankets on hand and ready to be dispatched.

About UNICEF in China: UNICEF first assisted China between 1947 and 1951, providing emergency services, food and nutrition, health and hygiene training during and after the war of liberation. In 1979 UNICEF officially commenced its cooperation with the Government of China to support child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  

For further information:

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