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Harsh Tajikistan Winter Prompts UNICEF To Rush Aid

Harsh winter in Tajikistan prompts UNICEF to rush aid deliveries

13 February 2008 - With Tajikistan facing the harshest winter in three decades amid severe shortages of water and gas supplies, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has rushed in emergency supplies to meet immediate critical needs.

"Our immediate concern right now is to urgently provide life-saving measures and assistance to children and women," said Ruth Leano, UNICEF's Deputy Representative, in Tajikistan.

Half of the estimated 7 million people affected by the crisis are children, close to 1 million of them under the age of five, when they are most vulnerable.

Since the onset of the severe weather and the energy shortage over the past weeks, UNICEF has delivered emergency health kits, jerry cans, baby blankets, hygiene sets, high protein biscuits, and generators to child and maternity hospitals and residential child care institutions in Tajikistan.

The agency said that all 3,800 primary schools and 400 kindergartens have almost no, or very limited, heating.

Tajikistan's Ministry of Health reports that acute respiratory infections including pneumonia have increased by two-fold and maternal mortality has also doubled in comparison with the same period last year. There are reports of some newborn deaths in maternity departments of hospitals owing to electricity cuts and the cold weather.

ENDS

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