Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Over 400 orphans still search for parents: UNICEF

Mizzima News - 08 July 2008

New Delhi - Two months after the deadly Cyclone Nargis ripped across Burma's southwestern coastal divisions, more than 400 children are still frantically searching for their parents, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said on Monday.

The UNICEF, in its report '60 Days response to Cyclone Nargis' said, as of end June 428 separated and unaccompanied children have been traced.

Zafrin Chow Chury, spokesperson of UNICEF in Rangoon said, "15 have been reunited with their parents, but as for the others we are still trying to trace their parents."

UNICEF said while it is focussing on finding family members for separated children, the process is largely hampered by the movement of refugees from their temporary shelters back to their villages or from one location to another.

"At present, efforts at tracing the families are being intensified with support from partners," the UN agency said.


While tracing families for separated children is being intensified, the UNICEF said education for other children is one among the major concerns as many of the children cannot yet attend schools because several schools have been severely damaged or destroyed.

According to the UNICEF, over 4,100 schools have been damaged by the cyclone that ravaged Burma's Irrawaddy and Rangoon division on May 2-3.

In Irrawaddy delta alone, at least 1,200 schools were totally destroyed and many collapsed in the cyclone, the UN agency said.

"We have helped in the repair of about 1,326 schools," said Chury, but she said there are still a lot of schools which need to be repaired and reconstructed.

"We are providing support with back up temporary learning spaces, tents and material where all school buildings have been destroyed," Chury said.


According to the UNICEF's report, Cyclone Nargis destroyed over 600 health centres and contaminated more than 4,000 drinking water wells.

"The biggest challenge facing the Health Sector is the destruction of Health Centres and depletion of health workers in the affected areas because of deaths," the UNICEF said.

While there has been no large-scale outbreak of water borne or vector borne diseases, UNICEF said cyclone survivors need ORS, antibiotics, infusion, vaccines and vitamin A to protect from any possible outbreak of diarrhoea, malaria and dengue hemorrhagic fever.

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