YANGON, GENEVA, 25 July 2008 – Close to three months after Cyclone Nargis slammed into Myanmar, nearly 700,000 children under the age of 17 are still in need of longer term assistance, says UNICEF. An estimated 2.4 million people were affected by the cyclone which destroyed or damaged hundreds of thousands of homes, schools and health centres.
‘While we have seen a gradual improvement in the situation of children and have managed to avoid major disease outbreaks, we need to sustain our efforts so children and their families can make a complete recovery from the devastation wreaked by Cyclone Nargis,’ said Ramesh Shrestha UNICEF Representative in Myanmar.
UNICEF’s emergency operation in Myanmar has concentrated on immunization, education and reuniting separated children with their families. It has distributed education supplies such as ‘schools-in-a-box’, essential learning packages and recreational kits to children in the affected areas and set up temporary learning spaces when schools have been completely destroyed. UNICEF has so far registered 616 separated children and has set up a family tracing and interim community care system.
A recent UN/ASEAN report revealed the immense damage inflicted by Cyclone Nargis. Major findings include 700,000 homes, 75 per cent of health facilities, over 4,000 schools damaged or destroyed in the affected areas. In addition, the cyclone struck a severe blow to people’s livelihoods by flooding 600,000 hectares of agricultural land, killing up to 50 per cent of livestock in the affected areas, and destroying fishing boats, food stocks and agricultural implements. According to the report, the damages and losses amount to $4 billion.
In a recent appeal, UNICEF requested $90.7 million for its humanitarian operation until April 2009.