Bhutan + 7 more

UNICEF humanitarian action update: Asia-Pacific 16 Oct 2009

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UNICEF urgently requires US$1,9 million to respond to the needs of nearly 10 million people directly affected by multiple disasters across the Asia-Pacific region

- UNICEF is providing immediate life-saving assistance to children and women in seven countries following devastating earthquakes, tsunami, typhoons, and flooding while also taking steps to help life return to normal as quickly as possible.

- Clean water, sanitation and hygiene support, family reunification, child protection, and prevention of malnutrition and communicable diseases are UNICEF's priorities in working with governments and civil society partners.

- Separate inter-agency appeals have been issued for targeted response in Indonesia and the Philippines.

1. ISSUES FOR CHILDREN

The Asia-Pacific region has recently been hit by a series of natural disasters: typhoons and floods in the Philippines (26th September and 3rd October); Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos (29th September). Earthquakes struck Bhutan (21st September); the Pacific Islands (26th September) with a resulting tsunami; and Indonesia (30th September). In total, some 9.8 million people are affected, more than 1,600 are confirmed dead, and over 3,000 people are still missing. More than 3.8 million of the affected population are children.

Children have been severely affected by the disasters. The lack of access to safe water, food, blankets and clothing are alarming in all the crisis-affected areas. The psychosocial well-being of children and communities has been significantly affected, and tens of thousands of children face heightened risks while displaced, separated, or lacking access to basic services. The number of children orphaned or with one surviving parent is not yet known. Children sleeping in overcrowded evacuation shelters could be at risk of secondary separation as families start to look for alternative accommodations for their children, including placement in institutions. Orphaned children living with other families are also at increased risk of discrimination and dropping out of school as stressors accumulate. In flood-affected areas, children face health risks such as communicable diseases after long periods of exposure to the elements. Disruption of schooling has affected all school children in the crisis-affected areas. While hundreds of schools have been destroyed, others are being used as temporary shelters.