NEW YORK (April 23, 2013) – In the wake of the devastating earthquake in Lushan County, China, which has left at least 190 people dead and 12,000 injured, UNICEF will be intensifying and accelerating efforts in child protection, mother and baby health, young child nutrition, and hygiene and sanitation. An estimated 26,000 children in Lushan County are affected by the earthquake.
Yesterday, UNICEF allocated $75,000 for emergency obstetric and neonatal health equipment for local health facilities.
Some of the communities damaged by Saturday’s 7.0 earthquake were also affected by the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake. UNICEF is concerned that young children may be reliving the trauma of five years ago.
"The Government of China has launched a very impressive effort to provide for the most urgent needs in response to a very powerful earthquake," said Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF China Representative. "We are impressed as well by the immediate and generous outpouring of support coming from civil society and the private sector in response to this tragic disaster."
"Our thoughts should focus first and foremost on children whose lives have been torn apart. They need our urgent support in order to bounce back from the trauma they have experienced," said Mellsop.
UNICEF is working with partners to strengthen existing child-friendly spaces, which provide nurturing places for children who have suffered from trauma, operating near the epicenter of the earthquake. It will also support mobile child welfare outreach teams in surrounding communities to help connect vulnerable children with available services.
After the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake, UNICEF and partners set up 40 child-friendly spaces throughout the earthquake zone, including two in Lushan County.
In consultation with government partners, UNICEF is also readying support for mother and baby health services in 34 local health facilities, measles-mumps-rubella and hepatitis immunization campaigns, infant and young child feeding assistance, hygiene kits and mobile latrines.
"We are providing support to our partners to intensify and accelerate existing programs for children. In the wake of this disaster we want to continue building better systems and practices that will improve children’s lives over the long term," said Tim Sutton, UNICEF China Deputy Representative. "For example, our community-led approach to ‘total sanitation’ will be strengthened and expanded to meet urgent needs while also creating lasting improvements in community health and hygiene by mobilizing parents, teachers, local government and children in the effort."
UNICEF first assisted China between 1947 and 1951, providing emergency services, food and nutrition, health and hygiene training during and after the Civil War. In 1979 UNICEF began implementing programs in child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in 190 countries and territories to save and improve children’s lives, providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when ZERO children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.