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UNICEF concerned about child protection

UNICEF concerned about child protection and water issues following Cyclone Mick

Wellington, 17 December 2009. – UNICEF is concerned for the well-being of thousands of people displaced in the wake of Cyclone Mick, including hundreds of children.

Two days after the cyclone in which up to five people were killed, 68 evacuation centres continue to house almost 3,600 evacuees.

UNICEF Pacific Deputy Representative Tim Sutton says that it is of concern that at least 1,500 of those in the evacuation centres are children under the age of 18.

Children are particularly vulnerable in emergencies, and many of the evacuees are still recovering from a severe flood last January. UNICEF is monitoring the situation in evacuation centres in terms of maintaining the safety and security of children.

Another major concern continues to be the risk of an outbreak of water-borne disease. After a natural disaster when water supplies are compromised it is vital to ensure the availability of safe water to avoid the spread of diarrhoeal diseases, particularly to children under 5 who are the most vulnerable. UNICEF stands by to distribute water containers, water purification tablets and emergency health and sanitation information as required.

All schools in Fiji are closed for the Christmas holidays and it is expected that all affected schools can be rebuilt and refurnished in time for their normal re-opening on 25 January. UNICEF has 15 ‘school in a box’ kits and 70 Early Childhood Development kits in Fiji that are available to be distributed if required and requested by the Government.

ENDS

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