NEW YORK (February 15, 2012) — UNICEF, the national office for disaster response and other humanitarian partners are gearing up their relief operation for people affected by cyclone Giovanna that struck Madagascar yesterday.
The category 4 cyclone made landfall at 1 a.m. about 100 kilometers south of the city of Tamatave, also known as Taomasina, in Brickaville district. It then moved across the island in a southwesterly direction where it lost strength in the highlands and was downgraded to a tropical storm. The capital Antananarivo nevertheless saw relatively strong winds and heavy rains.
Partners of UNICEF swiftly began to assist victims with water and sanitation, child protection and education. The non-governmental organization Frere St.Gabriel, for example, is activating a water purification plant in the hard-hit town of Brickaville. Another partner, SAF, is constructing UNICEF temporary classrooms in place of those that were destroyed.
"From the East coast we received reports of damage and human loss caused by heavy winds and flooding," said Dominic Stolarow, UNICEF's Emergency Coordinator in Madagascar.
"What needs to be done now is a proper assessment so we can understand the exact dimensions of this natural disaster. It will help us to design an adequate response," he said.
The national disaster office will organize an aerial assessment as soon as possible. UNICEF moved five regional technical advisors to support assessment and response.
In addition, two UNICEF rapid assessment teams were on stand-by in Antananarivo to be deployed together with teams from other UN agencies at short notice.
UNICEF has stocks of basic items in the country to help 66,000 people through the first few days, such as water purification devices and mosquito nets. There are also school kits for 45,000 children in stock, which could be distributed to those in need immediately.
UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization in the world. Working in more than 150 countries, UNICEF provides children with health care, clean water, 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.
UNICEF is at the forefront of efforts to reduce child mortality worldwide. There has been substantial progress: the annual number of under-five deaths dropped from more than 12 million in 1990 to 7.6 million in 2010. But still, 21,000 children die each day from preventable causes. Our mission is to do whatever it takes to make that number zero by giving children the essentials for a safe and healthy childhood.
For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.
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