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UNICEF provides immediate assistance to Samoa and Tonga

2009-09-28

Dozens are feared dead and hundreds injured after an 8.3-magnitude earthquake struck 195 kilometres south of Samoa at 6:48 a.m. local time on Tuesday, September 29, triggering a series of tsunami waves that thundered ashore in Western Samoa, American Samoa and parts of Tonga.

SUVA, 1 October 2009 - The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Pacific office based in Suva, Fiji has mobilised its emergency response team following the Pacific tsunami and will provide immediate humanitarian assistance to Samoa and Tonga. UNICEF Pacific is also offering its assistance to American Samoa.

UNICEF Pacific Representative, Dr. Isiye Ndombi has expressed shock over the scale of destruction of the tsunami and the resulting grief to the people of Samoa and Tonga. He assures that UNICEF Pacific will provide immediate support:

“Our hearts and minds are with the children and families of Samoa and Tonga right now. This is a tragedy of unbelievable proportions and UNICEF Pacific is ready to work closely and coordinated with our Samoan and Tongan partners and international agencies to provide immediate relief and support to the people of Samoa and Tonga. From past experiences we know that it is especially important that we work to immediately immunise children against measles, ensure the protection of women and children who are especially vulnerable now, and establish good sanitation facilities to prevent outbreak of diseases. UNICEF is especially well prepared to provide support in these areas now. We take note that the United States of America has already declared American Samoa a disaster area and taken charge of relief efforts there. UNICEF Pacific is naturally offering to extend its support to American Samoa, and will do so if requested.”

UNICEF Pacific will undertake a rapid needs assessment focusing on women and children and will provide supplies and assistance to the children and their families in Samoa and Tonga with immediate effect. This will be done under the coordination of the United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator’s Office and the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Donations

To support UNICEF’s relief efforts in emergency situations please donate now.

UNICEF Canada raises funds for emergencies based on country needs. Should the total contributions exceed the funding needs for a certain emergency, the funds received will be reallocated to other UNICEF emergency programmes where the need is greatest.

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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.