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What UNICEF said at the UN briefing


26 March 2003: What UNICEF said at the UN briefing

"In the north of Iraq UNICEF has been facilitating the continuing measles immunisation. Measles is the biggest killer of children in crises. The latest report says that 23,000 school children at 42 schools in Suleimanyeh were reached with measles immunisation."

Briefing by Geoff Keele, UNICEF Communication Officer, IRAQ

UNICEF staff in Iraq have continued efforts to tackle immediate humanitarian needs both in the capital Baghdad and in the north of the country. 100 First Aid kits have been handed over in the capital to the General Federation of Iraqi Women, which has access to considerable numbers of people at the grass roots level. The water team has been training local technicians on how to establish water bladders for emergency distribution in the event of a total failure of main systems.

In the north of Iraq UNICEF has been facilitating the continuing measles immunisation. Measles is the biggest killer of children in crises. The latest report says that 23,000 school children at 42 schools in Suleimanyeh were reached with measles immunisation. Also over the last few days, UNICEF teams have made visits to all the hospitals and health clinics in Dohuk. They have also established teams to conduct a rapid assessment of displaced populations in the area. Increased rates of diarrhoea have been reported amongst under five year old children in a camp near Mawat. A health team from Suleimanyeh has taken oral rehydration salts to the camp.

The water situation in Basra continues to be a major concern for UNICEF. The team in Kuwait is planning a road tanker operation with up to 40 vehicles. Fifty-five community water bladders with a capacity of 5000 litres have been flown to Kuwait for delivery to Basra and neighbouring areas. Supplies of drugs for the treatment of up to 1000 cases of Blackwater fever have also arrived in Kuwait. An outbreak at the beginning of the month claimed more than 75 lives. The drugs will be used at Basra Hospital.

We spoke to UNICEF staff in Baghdad this morning. They reported that children in the city are suffering obvious signs of trauma - continuous crying, fear of loud noises, nightmares, and so on.

Obviously the bombing of the city has an impact beyond destruction and casualties. The situation for children is made worse by the closure of schools. School normally serves as an outlet for children's emotions, and has a stabilizing influence.

In the current situation, however, parents are often afraid to even let their children outdoors. So play is at a minimum, as well. UNICEF knows from experience in other conflict zones that this has a lasting impact on children, and it is one of the many ways in which children are the most vulnerable in times of war.


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