UNICEF mobilizes response to Yunnan Earthquake

News and Press Release
Originally published
View original

BEIJING, 14 September 2012 – UNICEF is mobilizing to send urgently needed support for children affected by the 5.7 magnitude earthquake which recently struck Yunnan. The tremor, which killed 81 and injured more than 800, wiped out 1,900 houses and severely damaged another 37,500. Subsequent heavy rains and mudslides have caused additional damage, and hampered access to the region.

“We are very concerned that many children in this very poor region have been severely affected,” said Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF China Representative. “In support of Chinese government efforts, we are preparing a rapid response on all fronts with health supplies, hygiene kits and school supplies for students in boarding schools.”

The worst impacts of the disaster are centered on Yiliang County, a very remote part of Yunnan. Health, education and water supply infrastructure in the county have suffered extensive damage. Local UNICEF partners are reporting a high incidence of diarrohea and fevers among survivors, and very limited access to drinking water. In Yiliang, 257 schools have been severely damaged affecting tens of thousands of students.

Even prior to the earthquake, UNICEF has been working in Yiliang County, with programmes focusing on integrated maternal and child health and social assistance.

“We are also working with local government partners to rapidly deploy three Child Friendly Spaces to cater for children’s immediate emotional and psycho-social needs,” said Gillian Mellsop. “One of the most urgent and challenging priorities is to quickly support the psycho-social needs of children whose lives have been turned upside down by the disaster.”

UNICEF is working with the Yunnan Working Committee on Children and Women to set up the Child Friendly Spaces based on the model established following the Wenchuan earthquake. The original Child Friendly Spaces set up in 2008 have become permanent, locally funded centres for child protection services at the community level.

Yiliang County in Yunnan is a “National Poverty County” with an average annual household income of RMB 2,310 (US$ 360). Existing maternal and child health indicators are weak with 22 per cent stunting due to malnutrition 36 per cent measles immunization coverage.

According to a recent UNICEF village survey in Yiliang County a large number of residents migrate to other areas to gain employment. UNICEF is currently working with Local Government agencies to set up a new poverty alleviation strategy integrating maternal child health and conditional cash transfers.


UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit:

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook

For further information, please contact:

Dale Rutstein, UNICEF China,
Tel + 86 13910973801 +8613910973801

Liu Li, UNICEF China,
Tel + 86 13701066671 +86 13701066671