Earthquake-Affected Children in Mexico are Still in Need of Protection, Psycho-social Support and Education: UNICEF Calls for Them Not to Be Forgotten during the Holiday Season

December 20, 2017

Three months after the earthquakes of September 7 and 19, UNICEF urges all parties to ensure children remain at the heart of Mexico´s short, medium and long-term response

NEW YORK (December 20, 2017) – Three months after the earthquakes, UNICEF urged stakeholders in Mexico to guarantee the rights of children affected and commit to the needs of every child and adolescent in need of support.

“Children and families in Chiapas, Mexico City, Morelos, Oaxaca and Puebla are still living in precarious housing conditions and lack access to schools or to adequate health services,” said Christian Skoog, UNICEF Representative in México.

“Giving these families the necessary support so that their children can live in safe and stable homes, go to school and have access to basic needs is a matter of priority both for the future of these children and for the country´s long-term development.”

Over the past 3 months, UNICEF has worked with authorities and partners to support children and families affected by the earthquakes.

Within the first few hours after the earthquakes of September 7 and 19, UNICEF carried out rapid assessment missions to identify the immediate needs of children and adolescents in the affected areas.

Following the assessments, UNICEF established a response plan centered on three priorities: 1) protection and psycho-emotional support; 2) supporting children and young people in returning and staying in school and 3) providing access to adequate WASH facilities, including the provision of hygiene and sanitation products.

To complement its response for children and families in the immediate aftermath of the earthquakes, UNICEF worked closely with key partners from civil society, the private sector and the government. The response was also supported by a fundraising campaign. 

Over the past 3 months, UNICEF has:   

  • Established 34 child friendly spaces and 100 temporary learning spaces, benefiting 3,126 and 4,329 children respectively.
  • Distributed 410 School-in-a-Box kits (containing materials for a classroom), benefiting 16,400 students; 20 early childhood development (ECD) kits, benefiting 800 children under 5 years of age and 2,400 hygiene kits, benefiting 2,400 families.
  • Trained 353 teachers, who in turn will further train 5,296 teaching staff (as part of a train-the-trainers initiative), and 171 child-friendly space facilitators with tools and strategies for psycho-emotional support.
  • Distributed messages promoting breastfeeding in 600 shelters and aid collection points, supporting 2,400 pregnant and lactating women.

Alongside the technical support and the distribution of supplies, UNICEF also used U-Report, a social-messaging tool, to better understand the concerns and issues affecting young people. Through the participation of more than 900 adolescents and youth, UNICEF was able to gather feedback from young people who shared their insights through the platform. The feedback was then used to strengthen UNICEF’s ongoing advocacy and response plans.  

Moving forward, UNICEF has designed an early recovery plan that will be implemented in the first half of 2018, with the aim of:

  • Preventing children and young people from dropping out of the education system, due to delays in returning to school, as well as establishing a monitoring system of out-of-school children, especially after an emergency;
  • Continuing psycho-emotional support programs for children and adolescents affected by the earthquakes, as well as conducting training for partners in establishing and maintaining child-friendly spaces;
  • Installing bathrooms, hand-washing stations and drinking water facilities in temporary learning spaces to maintain sanitary conditions in shelters;
  • Conducting a sectoral assessment of protection measures and institutional response in affected states, and measuring the direct and indirect impact of the earthquakes on children;
  • Advocating for the rights of children and adolescents to be at the heart of reconstruction plans, and this includes -among others- considering their specific needs within social protection programs;
  • Interviewing new mothers and documenting their experiences of breastfeeding during the emergency, as well as noting any possible violations to the International Code of Breastmilk Substitutes; 
  • Training health professionals on the importance of promoting and supporting breastfeeding in emergency situations;
  • Strengthening local capacities in disaster prevention and risk reduction; and
  • Training adolescents in peer-to-peer psycho-emotional support.

"Keeping children at the center of recovery efforts is important, not only for their protection and to support in getting their lives back to normal, but also crucial for the present and the future development of the country."

"UNICEF Mexico thanks its supporters, both individual donors and companies, for responding immediately to the urgent and long-term needs of children and adolescents that were affected by the earthquakes. Without your support, the humanitarian response would not have been possible,” added Skoog.

To support UNICEF’s work for children in Mexico, visit www.unicefusa.org/mexico

About UNICEF
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) works in more than 190 countries and territories to put children first. UNICEF has helped save more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization, by providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. UNICEF USA supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when no children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.

For more information, contact:
Sophie Aziakou, UNICEF USA, 917.720.1397, saziakou@unicefusa.org