A Year After the Mexico Earthquakes, There are Actions Pending to Guarantee the Rights of Affected Children and Adolescents

September 12, 2018

  

MEXICO CITY, (September 12, 2018) – UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, today launched its Report on the Humanitarian Situation of Children and Adolescents a Year After the Mexico Earthquakes, acknowledging efforts made by different sectors in the country and insisting on the importance of prioritizing pending actions to meet the rights of those affected.

During a reporting-back event focused on its own contribution, UNICEF acknowledged the important progress achieved in Mexico with regards to preparation for and response to emergencies in general, as well as where it came to meeting the needs of children and adolescents affected by the 2017 earthquakes.

Nevertheless, the organization reiterated the importance of always placing the rights of children at the center of humanitarian response and of meeting in full the rights of those who were affected by the earthquakes, stressing that not a single child or adolescent should remain still out of school, for example, or learning under circumstances which negatively affect her or his right to quality education.

In response to the 2017 earthquakes, UNICEF launched an initial appeal for donations amounting to US$ 6.6. million to cover the special needs of children and adolescents in the areas of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene; Education; Health and Nutrition; Child Protection, and Social Policy.

“UNICEF’s work in Mexico is possible, to a large extent, thanks to the contributions of individuals and companies, and the same thing happened during this emergency, but it’s interesting to note that, out of more than 8 million dollars raised, 80% came from abroad, demonstrating the solidarity of the world towards the children of Mexico,” said Christian Skoog, UNICEF Representative in the country.

The funds raised, allowed UNICEF to:

  • distribute hygiene packs to 3,579 families;
  • distribute information to 2,400 women on the importance of maintaining breastfeeding and how to do it, and train 1,359 health professionals on the same subject;
  • ensure that 9,370 children and adolescents had access to safe drinking water and to child-friendly sanitation and hygiene facilities;
  • provide temporary learning spaces for 20,560 children and adolescents;
  • distribute schools in a box to the benefit of 32,400 children and adolescents;
  • train 5,962 teachers on psychosocial support and on emergency curriculum, and
  • open 37 child-friendly spaces to the benefit of 8,290 children and adolescents, where 1,050 parents and child-carers received attention as well.

UNICEF divided up the use of the resources received into two phases: 31% for an immediate response effort and 69% for a recovery plan. Approximately and related to both phases, 52% of the resources were used to ensure that children could resume their schooling as soon as possible, 22% was focused on child-protection initiatives due to the extreme vulnerability experienced by children exposed to this type of situation, another 22% went to water, sanitation and hygiene efforts, 3% to health and nutrition and 1% to social policy.

As an organization working for children’[s rights, UNICEF expressed satisfaction with the results achieved in collaboration with government counterparts, civic-society allies and private-sector supporters among others, but it highlighted some remaining challenges.

 “As a country regularly exposed to multiple natural phenomena, Mexico has been working to strengthen its resilience to emergencies, has built up its public safety culture and has achieved considerable progress since the 1985 earthquakes, as evident in 2017: fewer dead and injured and less damage to certain types of infrastructure,” said Christian Skoog.

“We now have the opportunity to take two important steps: we must ensure continuity of education in the aftermath of any emergency through safer school buildings, and we must ensure as well that response protocols and mechanisms are developed with a focus on children and adolescents in particular, so that the effect of this type of situations on them is as mild as possible and their recovery as fast as can be,” stressed Skoog, adding that UNICEF is ready to share its experience in dealing with emergencies globally to support a strengthening of information systems so that they can ensure an even faster and more solid response to future emergencies in Mexico.

An exploratory qualitative study carried out by UNICEF in Jojutla (Morelos) and Juchitán (Oaxaca), shows the impact of the 2017 earthquakes on child and adolescent health, nutrition, education and protection.

In general terms, Mexico needs to strengthen its food donation processes so that the health of children and adolescents is not negatively affected during disaster situations, and it should promote breastfeeding. With regards to social protection, Mexico needs to develop emergency social programs and/or benefits to cover the basic needs of the most vulnerable groups, especially families with children and adolescents (food, health, temporary housing, clothing, etc.), thus preventing long-term, irreparable damage to their lives.

With regards to persistent challenges linked to the 2017 earthquakes, based on reports from different municipalities in Chiapas and Oaxaca, there remain an estimated 3,444 partially or fully damaged schools and, though water supplies to homes and other buildings have been progressively reconnected, the amount of water reaching them has decreased.

Furthermore, based on UNICEF’s observations, community life in general has been considerably altered following the earthquakes. Children continue to need psychosocial support and there are limited available services to provide it. The organization indicates that recovering spaces suitable for children and adolescents — where they can learn, socialize, relax, play and participate in community activities — is an urgent need, and that the reconstruction of the education sector must continue to be a priority for the country.

 

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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, safe 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
Erica Vogel, UNICEF USA, 212.922.2480, evogel@unicefusa.org