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Cyclone-affected children return to school

UNICEF New Zealand
Media Release

Cyclone-affected children return to school

Wellington, 25 July 2008. – Thousands of cyclone-affected school children in Myanmar have been able to return to school thanks to help from UNICEF.

When Cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar in May it left a trail of destruction with the United Nations estimating more than 84,000 people dead and more than 53,000 missing. In the hard hit Irrawddy Delta region, destruction and damage affecting nearly 60 per cent of the area’s public schools prevented classes starting on time.

UNICEF NZ Executive Director Dennis McKinlay says recovery and relief efforts have progressed well in the Irrawaddy Delta, allowing more than 6,000 children to get back to school.

‘One of the key priorities for UNICEF in an emergency, once immediate needs have been met, is to get children back to school,’ he says.

‘UNICEF and its partners have set up 123 large tents in the area that serve as safe learning spaces for children whose schools were destroyed. Classroom furniture has also been supplied to 56 temporary schools along with essential learning materials.

‘Out of this terrible disaster has come the opportunity to build back better, stronger and more child-friendly schools. Seven model schools have already been constructed to provide a blueprint for quality schools of the future.’

Mr McKinlay says that reopening schools as quickly as possible has been vital to restoring children’s sense of well-being.

‘Schools not only provide a safe and nurturing place to learn away from the threat of recruitment into the military, but also allow better monitoring of the social and health wellbeing of children.

‘Returning to school has given these children and their families a chance to resume the rhythm of a normal life and have the opportunity to prepare for a brighter future.’


© Scoop Media

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