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UNICEF ready to provide assistance to landslide-affected areas in China

2010-08-10

BEIJING, August 11, 2010 – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is preparing to respond to requests for emergency assistance for children and families affected by the devastating landslides in Zhouqu County in Northwest China’s Gansu Province.

State media reported that as of today, the landslide, the deadliest to hit China in six decades has caused 702 deaths, 1042 missing and 45,000 people evacuated.
The Government of China has dispatched rescue teams, medical support, emergency relief supplies and soldiers to Zhouqu County. Rescue efforts continue to be hindered, however, by rains and heavy mudflows which have blocked major roads.

As students are currently on summer vacation, school was not in session when the landslide struck. However, in any emergency, young children are among the most vulnerable.

It is reported that the schools buildings of the No.1 and No. 2 Chengguan Town Primary Schools, and the County Kindergarten have been severely damaged or have totally collapsed, causing an unknown number of teacher casualties and loss of educational facilities. This may pose some challenges for the new school semester, scheduled to start just three weeks away in early September.

UNICEF has been in close contact with government counterparts in Zhouqu County, a UNICEF project county since late 2008, when UNICEF introduced its Maternal and Child Health (MCH) and immunization programmes there in the aftermath of the May 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Zhouqu County was one of the counties in Gansu Province most severely affected by that emergency.
As of this writing, UNICEF has received news of the following urgent needs: 

  • Ambulances, emergency medical equipment for safe delivery and neonatal care. The Zhouqu County MCH Hospital has been flooded, and the entire building and all the medical equipment in it have been destroyed.
  • Support the emergency measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) and Heptatis A vaccination campaigns that will target 10,000 children aged 8 months to 6 years; provide freezer room for vaccine storage, vehicles for transport of vaccines, and IT equipment to recover the Child Immunization Registry Information System, which will allow health staff to better plan and monitor vaccination campaigns.

The Zhouqu County Centre of Disease Control’s office, along with cold chain equipment, refrigerators and vaccine transport vehicles have been severely damaged.

UNICEF remains in close contact with local and central-level government counterparts and is mobilizing urgently-needed supplies for children and women in the emergency zone.

To send urgently needed relief supplies to children and women affected by emergencies, please donate to our Emergency Relief Fund.

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 recommenced its cooperation with the Government of China which today supports child health and nutrition, clean 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, scarmichael@unicef.ca.
Tiffany Baggetta, Director, Communications and Brand, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8892; Cell: (647) 308-4806, tbaggetta@unicef.ca.