9 September 2017 – The team of specialists that visited today the areas worst affected by the earthquake that hit the county this past Thursday has determined that it is a matter of priority for children and adolescents to receive psychosocial support and all the necessary help to return to school as soon as possible.
“After a traumatic experience as serious as this, it’s key for children’s recovery to resume their normal routine as soon as possible, and part of it is returning to school,” said Pressia Arifin Cabo, UNICEF Mexico’s Deputy Representative, from the southern state of Chiapas.
Over two million children live in the 166 municipalities that have been declared under a state of emergency by the Mexican Government, and it is crucial for them to resume their normal lives as soon as possible following the 8.2 magnitude earthquake.
During a visit to the coastal areas of the state of Chiapas, Arifin Cabo indicated that the Mexican authorities have the institutional capacity to ensure that children resume their schooling through mobile classrooms in the case of those schools that have suffered damages, and that UNICEF is ready to support their efforts through its School in a Box programme, which the organisation implements in emergency situations at global level.
This programme offers students at different levels of the educational system and their teachers a pack of items that facilitates the return to school after an emergency situation, through a set of school implements and support materials for teachers.
UNICEF started today their assessment of the needs of girls, boys and adolescents affected by the earthquake, and over the next few days the organisation will present a full proposal of the type of support it could offer to strengthen national efforts by the Government, aimed at ensuring that children and the affected population in general return to normality as soon as possible.
Any kind of support that the organisation might offer would be determined in dialogue with the Mexican authorities.
UNICEF launched this week a campaign aimed at raising funds to help children affected the the hurricanes in the Caribbean, and it has now broadened its efforts to also help the children affected by the earthquake in Mexico.
The organisation estimates that it will need a minimum of US$ 1.2 million for immediate and complementary response to meet the needs of children and adolescents in earthquake affected areas, as well as those that might come up in Veracruz and other areas as a result of the hurricanes in the Caribbean.
The earthquake in children’s own voices
During the first day of their visit to some of the worst affected areas, the UNICEF Mexico team learnt from the children themselves and from their families what they experienced on the night of Thursday 7 of September in the area at the epicentre of the earthquake.
José Raquel Tirado, 12 years old, told the team how he was woken up by the loud noise of roof tiles falling from his adobe-brick home: “I was asleep. The earthquake woke me up and then, then I got up and opened the doors so that my granny, my grandad and my mum could get out of the house,” he says in a still agitated tone.
“We then gathered in the laundry area and prayed for the earthquake to pass,” he said.
José Raquel and other children in the area say that they have experienced earthquakes before but none as strong as this one. Leonel Indili Ríos, 10 years old, came to the small town of Gustavo López Gutiérrez, in the municipality of Pijijiapan, at the epicentre of the earthquake, to visit his cousins and friends, and he tells the UNICEF staff: “I also was very frightened because when things fell they made a lot of noise.”
Erika Guadalupe Prado, eight years old, talks shyly with the UNICEF team but agrees with the other children in the community in that she was very scared because the electricity went off and she could hear parts of the roofs and walls falling.
In the view of the municipal authorities in the places visited by the UNICEF staff, children of all ages are very scared as a result of having experienced what is considered the strongest earthquake to hit Mexico in 100 years.
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