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Bangladesh: UN Rushes Aid To Kids Hit By Cyclone

Bangladesh: UN agencies to rush aid to children devastated by recent cyclone

United Nations agencies and their partners will begin distributing much-needed supplies to children and pregnant and lactating women living in areas recently devastated by Cyclone Sidr in Bangladesh.

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and other partners are teaming up to deliver high-energy biscuits and family kits to children under three years of age, as well as pregnant and lactating women, in the six more severely impacted districts: Patuakhali, Barguna, Barisal, Bagerhat, Pirojpur and Jhalokathi.

UNICEF sounded the alarm today that an estimated 300,000 children under five years of age are living throughout the disaster zone in makeshift camps with their families, are living on meager food and water. They do not have proper shelter or access to basic amenities, leaving them at risk of diarrhoea, acute respiratory infection and other cold-related diseases.

"Children often bear the greatest brunt of natural disasters, needing the greatest assistance and care," said Louis-George Aresnault, UNICEF Representative in Bangladesh.

"Food alone is not enough to alleviate the disease burden," he added. "If they are not fed micronutrients quickly and are not protected by vitamins and iron, and if diarrhoeal diseases spread, they will die."

Media reports note that there have already been outbreaks of diseases such as diarrhea, pneumonia, fever and typhoid. Given the high prevalence of chronic and acute malnutrition among Bangladeshi children, they are now even more susceptible to illness following the cyclone, which the Government says has impacted 8.4 million people.

UNICEF is currently working to curb long-term malnutrition and tackle the expected rise in malnutrition rates by distributing supplementary feeding for some 340,000 children under five years of age and approximately 124,000 pregnant and lactating women.

The agency is also planning a Vitamin A campaign to bolster children's immune systems and curtail potential mortality from infectious diseases.


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