SYDNEY, Saturday 2 September 2017
– Weeks of torrential monsoon rains and catastrophic flooding in three countries of South Asia – Nepal, India, and Bangladesh – have devastated the lives of millions of children and families. UNICEF estimates that almost 16 million children and their families are in urgent need of life-saving support.
Millions of children have seen their lives swept away by these devastating floods" said Jean Gough, UNICEF Regional Director for South Asia. Children have lost their homes, schools and even friends and loved ones. There is a danger the worst could still be to come as rains continue and flood waters move south" she added.
Since mid-August, there have been at least 1,288 reported deaths, with over 45 million people estimated to be affected.
Many areas remain inaccessible due to damage to roads, bridges, railways and airports. The most urgent needs for children are clean water, hygiene supplies to prevent the spread of disease, food supplies and safe places in evacuation centres for children to play.
UNICEF is on the ground working in close coordination with respective governments and humanitarian partners from three countries to scale up its responses and respond to immediate needs of affected children and their families.
"Massive damage to school infrastructure and supplies also mean hundreds of thousands of children may miss weeks or months of school" said Gough. "Getting children back into school is absolutely critical in establishing a sense of stability for children during times of crisis and provides a sense of normality when everything else is being turned upside down."
In Bangladesh alone, more than 8 million people have been affected by flooding, including around 3 million children. An estimated 696,169 houses have been damaged or destroyed and 2,292 primary and community schools have been damaged by high water. There have already been more than 13,035 cases of water-borne diseases in the country.
In Nepal, 1.7 million people, including 680,000 children, have been affected with 352,738 displaced from their homes. More than 185,126 homes have been damaged or destroyed in addition to 1,958 schools, affecting the education of 253,605 children.
In India, four states in northern India have been extensively affected by the flooding, affecting over 31 million people including 12.33 million children. Some 805,183 houses are either partially or fully damaged and 15,455 schools have been damaged, disrupting the education of nearly one million students. Further heavy rains in Mumbai resulted in at least five deaths by drowning and three people including two children died due to house collapse.
Notes for editors:
In Bangladesh, UNICEF is supporting the government in responding to approximately 1.5 million flood affected population by raising, repairing and disinfecting 40,000 tube-wells and providing 1 million water purification tablets, 837 hygiene kits, 6,400 jerry cans and 5,080 kg of bleaching powder. UNICEF is working with Bangladesh’s district education authorities to prepare emergency education services in a protective environment to an initial 6,000 children immediately after water level goes down. UNICEF is also in the process of establishing temporary learning spaces and transitional schools with provision of education in emergencies kits to 800 children and is organizing boats for transportation of children and teachers for their commute to schools.
In Nepal, UNICEF is co-leading with the government line ministries and other partners to launch its immediate relief efforts and continue to scale them up. In September, an intensified immunization programme (measles, tetanus), integrated with nutrition and hygiene promotion, is being planned for five days in 16 affected districts. The programme aims to reach over 260,000 children under 5 as well as their caregivers. Of these children, 80,000 between ages 0 to 23 months will be immunized with measles vaccine. Urgent focus is ensuring that the already high pre-flood rates of Severe Acute Malnutrition in the affected districts do not get exacerbated in the post-flood scenario. Initial rapid nutrition screening conducted in 18 districts (9,000 children) has already revealed a Global Acute Malnutrition rate of 23.1 per cent. To date, UNICEF has dispatched over US$320,000 worth of pre-positioned contingency supplies for WASH, Health, Nutrition, Education and Child protection to respond to this emergency. Supplies distributed include 1,199,000 Aqua tabs, 21,620 water purifying chlorine tablets (35 mg), 8,365 buckets, over 20,000 long-lasting insecticide treated nets, over 8,000 hygiene kits, 6,840 tarpaulins, 3,350 ORS and Zinc tablets and education supplies in small amounts.
In the affected states in India the state governments, following rescue operations, are conducting relief, rehabilitation and recovery operations. UNICEF, at the request of the state governments, is providing multi-sectoral planning and coordination support in the three worst affected states of Assam, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. For example, over 9.8 million people in Bihar have been reached with lifesaving information on topics such as safe drinking water and handwashing.
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