UNICEF REPORT: Desperate Conditions for Children in Camps Without Clean Water as Cyclone Aftermath Worsens

May 11, 2008, 01:00 ET from UNICEF

    NEW YORK, May 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The situation for children
 continues to worsen in Myanmar as thousands of children have been separated
 from their families, many more are living in desperate conditions in relief
 camps, and some are drinking water from ponds covered with dead bodies, a
 UNICEF report stated today.
     The information is contained in a new situation report received from
 UNICEF's 10 offices in Myanmar. It details the most urgent needs of women
 and children and clearly shows the magnitude of devastation in the delta
     In Bogalay Township, ponds are covered with dead bodies of humans and
 animals. Currently, people are trying to pump water from the pond, which
 can be bleached, but it can only serve the nearby communities.
     Also in this township, hospitals are overcrowded with up to 6,000
 patients every day. The very grave threat of water-borne diseases is
 apparent with more people visiting hospitals suffering from deadly diarrhea
 and dehydration. About 20,000 people from this township are displaced and
 living in 50 camps.
     In Mawlamyinegyun Township, UNICEF reports that 50 percent of villages
 were damaged out of 757 villages, and 20,000 people are currently staying
 in 20 camps. UNICEF is sending additional emergency supplies, expected to
 reach the area today.
     The situation is also desperate in Pyapon Township where 16,000 people
 have been displaced, now living in 35 camps. Conditions in these camps are
 appalling: in one camp there are only five latrines for 3,500 people.
 People in this area are suffering a severe shortage of food, insufficient
 shelters and they are drinking water from contaminated ponds.
     A priority concern for UNICEF is the identification of unaccompanied
 and separated children, as well as family tracing and unification. In all
 regions, the number of children who have been orphaned by the disaster or
 separated from their families is rapidly increasing. So far, UNICEF has
 identified at least 2,000 of these children from the Laputta Township, and
 it is expected that number of children will continue to rise. UNICEF is
 working to ensure these children have safe shelter and that their basic
 needs are met. UNICEF staff have already begun the process of trying to
 trace the families of these children to reunite them.
     The risk of life-threatening diarrhea and infectious diseases increases
 dramatically with every day. Children are highly susceptible to these
 problems and their impact is graver when the sufferers are under-nourished.
     "If there was ever a clearer sign that every second counts for children
 in Myanmar this is it," said Caryl M. Stern, President, U.S. Fund for
 UNICEF. "This is a critical time for the children and families affected by
 the cyclone. The UNICEF team on the ground in Myanmar will continue to work
 around the clock to ensure children are provided for."
     At present, UNICEF's priority is to provide life saving essentials to
 children and their mothers:
* On Saturday, UNICEF's Supply Division in Copenhagen packed 30 emergency health kits that will provide drugs, medical supplies, and basic medical equipment for 300,000 persons for 3 months. Other medical supplies, including intravenous glucose, thermometers, masks and gloves are also on the flight, which is a commercial plane to fly from Amsterdam Sunday, 11 May 23:30, expected to Bangkok Mon 19:50. Will be transferred to Yangon ASAP. * Another shipment of nutrition supplies will be flown from Paris, via KLM on Sunday, 11 May, including fortified therapeutic milk. On Monday UNICEF will share a charter with UNHCR from Dubai into Yangon with 540 family water kits. Another flight arriving Monday will be carrying 32 tons of provisions including 20 large tents, essential drugs, and oral rehydration therapy. * A UNICEF flight containing three million water purification tablets, good to purify five million liters of contaminated water, enough for the needs of 200,000 people for one week, landed on Friday and will be distributed following a customs check. * UNICEF is constructing latrines and digging wells in the hardest hit areas. * UNICEF is providing water purification tablets, oral rehydration therapies, essential drugs for infectious diseases and mosquito nets, but the quantities currently available are not sufficient to meet needs. UNICEF staff in Myanmar have been able to distribute emergency supplies in the most affected regions using pre-positioned stock in the country prior to the cyclone, as well as with supplies purchased in Myanmar. However, given the scope of the disaster, "We need the supply pipeline to increase exponentially," said Stern. UNICEF is one of the few international organizations that has a well-established, on-the-ground presence in Myanmar. UNICEF has worked in the country since 1950 and has 130 staff on the ground spread across nine zonal offices with a head office in Yangon. To donate to the Cyclone Nargis disaster, please go to: www.unicefusa.org/myanmar or call 1-800 4UNICEF. About UNICEF For more than 60 years, UNICEF has been the world's leading international children's organization, working in over 150 countries to address the ongoing issues that affect why kids are dying. UNICEF provides lifesaving nutrition, clean water, education, protection and emergency response saving more young lives than any other humanitarian organization in the world. While millions of children die every year of preventable causes like dehydration, upper respiratory infections and measles, UNICEF, with the support of partnering organizations and donors alike, has the global experience, resources and reach to give children the best hope of survival. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicefusa.org.