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NZ Child Protection Expert Flies To Pakistan

NZ Child Protection Expert Flies To Pakistan

Heather MacLeod in Darfur, Sudan.

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With thousands of people dead and missing, the tracking and tracing of children is becoming a key concern for aid agencies working in earthquake-struck Pakistan. International Child Protection expert, New Zealander Heather MacLeod is on her way to Pakistan to start child protection programming.

"There is a huge need for family reunification and tracing, and we need to try and prevent further separation of children from their families," says World Vision NZ's CEO Helen Green. "Separation can happen in the days following a disaster, especially when children are treated at medical facilities without their parents, and when children were pulled from the rubble and their parents weren't around."

Hospitals and clinics have been asked to keep the clothes of the children who are admitted.

"The highest priority has to go to the youngest children, who can't tell us anything about themselves. It's vital for them that family tracing activities are undertaken as soon as possible," says Mrs Green.

World Vision is establishing Child Friendly Spaces around the ruined villages, as they did under Heather MacLeod's supervision, in the Tsunami affected areas,in Darfur camps in Sudan, and after the Bam earthquake in Iran.

"These child friendly areas are essential for children's physical and mental safety. They're safe, protected from the threat of abduction or trafficking, and they can be reunited more easily with family. We establish schooling as soon as possible, in these Child Friendly Spaces, and that helps with a return to normalcy and lessens the trauma of what they've been through," says Mrs Green.

Meanwhile a World Vision assessment team has headed into the remote northern regions to assess villages which have not been reached yet. The only means of travel are helicopter and donkey. Helicopters are in short supply, so the team are travelling by donkey, taking with them heavy winter quilts for distribution.

ENDS

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