UNICEF Appeals for $20 Million for Pakistan Earthquake
Four Million People Affected, Life-Saving Supplies Moved to Epicentre
NEW YORK / GENEVA, 9 October 2005 – UNICEF said today that it is appealing for an initial $20 million to provide emergency relief to children and families who survived the Pakistan earthquake.
The appeal by UNICEF comes as its first trucks are rolling towards the northern Pakistan town of Mansehra, loaded with blankets, children’s clothing, water containers, and plastic tarpaulins.
Another convoy is en route from Karachi with water purification equipment, nutritional food for children, soap, shelter supplies, and children’s boots and sweaters – all designed to help children in the wake of the disaster.
Speaking from New York, UNICEF’s Executive Director Ann M. Veneman said that the priority in the coming days will be to provide children with the means to survive.
“This appeal means immediate action to save children’s lives,” said Veneman. “Needed assistance includes medical care, clean water, nutritional food for infants, clothing, and shelter – the things that matter most in the critical few weeks after a disaster like this when children and their families have lost everything.”
UNICEF is moving additional staff and supplies into Pakistan from its regional offices, working in close coordination with the Government of Pakistan and other UN agencies. UNICEF has provided logistics and supplies for the frontline Pakistani surgical teams being dropped by helicopter into the most remote areas, and is now moving in assessment teams by road into outlying areas as part of the UN’s effort to establish the extent of the disaster.
Almost one in every five people in the affected zone is a child under the age of 5, and nearly half are younger than 18. A quarter of the population lives under the poverty line.
The chief of UNICEF’s operation in Pakistan, Omar Abdi, said that the mountainous region is a complex one, with different challenges from valley to valley.
“It’s difficult to access at the best of times, and its people have very few extra resources,” Abdi said. “There have been overnight rains and hail which have added to the misery for people sleeping exposed, too afraid to enter whatever shelter remains. This has also created more landslides, further hampering aid efforts.”
In 2003, UNICEF worked closely with Pakistani authorities after devastating floods hit Sindh province and affected more than 800,000 people. UNICEF stressed that its first $20 million appeal will be revised in the coming days as its operation is refined in keeping with the UN operational framework and appeal.
“Beyond immediate relief, our focus is to get children back to school as soon as possible,” Veneman added. “We are all shocked by the news that children were killed as they sat at their desks. But very quickly it will be time to get those who survived back to their classrooms. School provides the very structure and rhythm that they’ve lost, a touchstone which will help overcome shock and trauma.”
For nearly 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 157 countries to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for poor countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
Attention broadcasters: A studio interview with UNICEF’s representative in Pakistan, Omar Abdi, will be available on www.thenewsmarket.com/unicef. APTN and Reuters also feed the interview.
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