UNICEF in Myanmar: Rapid response critical to saving lives
Thousands feared dead and thousands more are without shelter or drinking water
NEW YORK, May 2008 – UNICEF is undertaking urgent preliminary assessments of the devastation caused by Cyclone Nargis, which struck southeast Myanmar on Saturday, killing thousands and injuring tens of thousands. UNICEF has dispatched five assessment teams to three of the affected areas and life-saving supplies are being moved into position.
UNICEF will work with partners and the government to provide access to clean water, safe sanitation and improved hygiene, and will seek to protect children and assist them in returning to school as soon as possible. Immediate needs are likely to include water purification tablets, plastic sheeting, cooking sets, bed nets, emergency health kits and an emergency nutrition response. Prior to the disaster, UNICEF had begun stockpiling crucial supplies in country.
Preliminary reports suggest that thousands of people have been killed and thousands more are missing. Electrical lines are down, affecting delivery of services and aid, blocking roads and access to rescue vehicles.
Women and children make up more than 60 per cent of Myanmar’s population, and are likely to be prominent among those affected. Experience shows that children are less able to physically defend themselves against such forces of nature and are highly vulnerable to the dangers that follow in their wake.
UNICEF has been present in Myanmar since 1950, with nine zonal offices and a head office in Yangon.
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