UNICEF acts to assist earthquake/tsunami victims in Southeast Asia

Thousands of children feared dead. Quick international effort needed to avert additional deaths and disease in disasters' wake...

NEW YORK, Dec. 26, 2004 (PRNewswire) -- UNICEF is responding to the devastation caused by a deadly earthquake off the West Coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra today.

UNICEF believes that at least one third of the reported dead are children. Some of the hardest hit populations were the fishing communities along the coastal villages scattered in all the affected areas. Most of those populations were already living under the poverty line, and it is expected that this disaster will increase their vulnerability as they lived in makeshift huts with very low incomes and little financial security. Children will likely pay a heavy toll as many were playing or helping their parents on the beaches or fishing with their parents on numerous boats, many of them missing.

Immediate UNICEF response will consist of survival essentials including emergency health supplies, oral rehydration therapies, high-protein biscuits, basic shelter materials, as well as water purification tablets and units. Longer-term assistance will likely include educational supplies, health supplies and sanitation items.

UNICEF is working in consultation with many of the affected governments and its response will evolve based on more systematic data gathering and new information once communications functions have improved in the region affected.

UNICEF, through its emergency operations center in New York and its supply division in Copenhagen is alert and operational 24 hours per day, every day, and can deliver supplies from its warehouse in Dubai, the nearest location of the affected areas.

How to help: The U.S. Fund for UNICEF welcomes donations from the public, please visit www.unicefusa.org or 800-4UNICEF (86-4233) and please specify Southeast Asia Earthquake Relief.

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