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UN Calls For $33m For China Earthquake Survivors

Unitged Nations issues call for $33 million to help earthquake survivors in China

16 July 2008 - The United Nations launched an appeal today for $33.5 million to help victims of May's devastating earthquake in China, which claimed nearly 70,000 lives, injured hundreds of thousands of people and left more than 5 million homeless.

"It is the hope of the United Nations and the international community that China will quickly recover from this enormous tragedy and through this Appeal we extend all our support and assistance," said Khalid Malik, UN Resident Coordinator in China.

Aside from the havoc it wreaked on lives and livelihoods, the tremors also demolished services and infrastructure. In Sichuan province, where the 8.0 magnitude quake had its epicentre, and neighbouring Gansu and Shaanxi provinces, some 5 million buildings collapsed and a further 21 million were damaged.

These three provinces are among the poorest in China, and the Ministry of Commerce said that an additional 10 million people fell below the poverty line after the earthquake.

The Chinese Government, which is supporting the UN's call for funds, said that reconstruction could take up to three years, with permanent structures needing to be rebuilt, basic services restored and schools, hospitals and roads repaired.

Today's appeal targets the needs of the poor and vulnerable who have received basic assistance but require more aid as reconstruction efforts get under way and before the start of winter.

"The UN will do everything it can to help the survivors meet their needs, with the aim to help them rebuild their lives and communities as soon as possible," Mr. Malik said.

The world body has contributed over $17 million in aid - $8 million from the Central Emergency Relief Fund (CERF) - and the new appeal will focus on the areas of shelter; health, nutrition and HIV/AIDS; water and sanitation; protection of vulnerable groups; education; livelihoods; environment; ethnic minorities; and coordination and communication.

A two-day UN workshop, co-hosted with the Ministry of Commerce, on post-disaster reconstruction practices wrapped up yesterday. The event brought together experts from around the world who discussed disaster recovery in their respective countries.

ENDS

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