UNICEF staff throughout South Asia prepare to respond for Indonesian Earthquake
Mar 29, 2005, 16:24

UNICEF staff in South Asia are assessing the damage from this morning's earthquake that hit Sumatra, in preparation for the implementation of additional relief efforts in the region. This earthquake comes on the heels of the December 26, 2004 earthquake that affected millions of children and their families.

This morning's earthquake has UNICEF concerned for the psycho-social health of the traumatized survivors of last December's earthquake, as this newest seismic activity may set off fear and panic in the affected region. Some children and adults were making great strides dealing with the emotional stress that such a disaster can cause. In addition to preparing for relief efforts, UNICEF is actively trying to confirm the safety of its staff. While the total death and injury toll is unknown, recent experience has shown that it is likely to rise dramatically as the full impact of the devastation unfolds.

Prior to this recent emergency, UNICEF was preparing its 100-day assessment of its ongoing relief and recovery efforts in the December 26 tsunami zone. To date, results from this report show that UNICEF responded to the crisis quickly through its extensive field office network. Working closely with community, governmental, UN and NGO counterparts, UNICEF has been helping to ensure that children are protected from communicable disease, nutritional deficiencies, poor access to education and health care, and vulnerabilities related to trauma and protection.

Fortunately for the millions affected by the tsunami, private and public donor response has been both extremely generous and rapid. As of March 15, UNICEF had received unprecedented support, which has led to some positive initial results, including:

* Very few children have died from preventable disease probably the most important indicator of an effective immediate response.
* In the most heavily affected communities in Indonesia and Sri Lanka, 80 to 100 percent of children are back to school, most within the first month.
* Reliable systems are in place so most vulnerable communities can access clean water.
* Almost all separated or vulnerable children are receiving shelter, food and clothing, family tracing and psycho-social counseling.

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