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24 March 2015 – Unicef has only around fifteen per cent of the money it needs to get life-saving aid to thousands of children and their families, after Cyclone Pam wreaked havoc in Vanuatu and other Pacific islands.
The children’s organisation revealed the huge funding shortfall as it announced a new US$4.8 million humanitarian appeal, as part of a wider United Nations US$29.9 million ask for Vanuatu launched today.
Around 82,000 children - about two thirds of the children in Vanuatu - are in need of humanitarian assistance.
Unicef is concentrating on making sure that children and their families in Vanuatu – as well as in affected communities in Tuvalu, Solomon Islands and Kiribati - have access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene, and health services including immunisation. Unicef is providing treatment for diarrhoea, care of new-borns and nutrient supplements, while also protecting children from violence, exploitation and abuse.
“Children – especially those in the hardest-to-reach islands - are in serious danger right now,” says Karen Allen, Unicef Pacific Representative. “Access to safe water remains absolutely critical – with almost all islands in Vanuatu suffering from acute water shortages – while there is a significant risk of disease because of flooding, poor sanitation and limited medical care.”
“Thankfully emergency preparations - including warning systems and the use of traditional light materials in housing – prevented a higher death toll,” Ms Allen continued. “Relief supplies are beginning to reach people, though logistics remain challenging and expensive.”
Schools officially re-opened today, however, 80 percent of school buildings were damaged in Vanuatu, 34 were used as evacuation centres and housing for teachers was also destroyed. Unicef is working to ensure that more than 50,000 school-aged children affected by the cyclone return to class as soon as possible.
As of 23 March, Unicef had received around US$769,000 towards its emergency response to Cyclone Pam.
“We have committed US$2.7 million in procurement and transport costs, some from loaned funding which has to be repaid,” says Allen. “Life-saving supplies are getting through, however, we urgently require more funds to reach more children in desperate need especially on remote islands.”
The aid response to Cyclone Pam involves huge logistical challenges. Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu are made up of numerous islands – Vanuatu alone has 83 – with high costs involved in procuring and delivering vital supplies.
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Unicef is the world’s leading organisation for children, promoting the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
Unicef UK raises funds to protect children in danger, transform their lives and build a safer world for tomorrow’s children. As a registered charity we raise funds through donations from individuals, organisations and companies and we lobby and campaign to keep children safe. Unicef UK also runs programmes in schools, hospitals and with local authorities in the UK. For more information please visit unicef.org.uk