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UN agencies increase aid relief in quake-affected south-western China

UN agencies increase aid relief in quake-affected south-western China

Searching for survivors in the aftermath of the devasting earthquake in China (16 May 2008)
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Food Programme (WFP) are stepping up their support to authorities in China as they deal with relief efforts in the wake of last Monday’s devastating earthquake in Sichuan province.

UNDP has allocated $100,000 for emergency relief activities, which will be used in part to help coordinate the relief response and make needs assessments, the agency announced today in Beijing. It is also providing tents, quilts, clothing, food, drinking water and medicines to some of the most affected areas.

UN spokesperson Michele Montas told reporters that the WFP is also distributing some $100,000 worth of noodles, joining the support already provided by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organization (WHO).

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) is expected to procure and supply water purifying and testing equipment.

State media report that the official death toll has risen to more than 28,000, with some 14,000 others still trapped under debris and rubble and nearly 200,000 others injured. An estimated 3.3 million homes have been destroyed and 15.6 million others have been partially damaged.

The quake measured 7.8 on the Richter scale when it struck south-western China on Monday afternoon, just before 2:30 local time. At least 4,400 aftershocks have since been recorded.

UN staff in China observed three minutes of silence today as the country began a three-day mourning period for the victims of the quake. The UN flag is also being flown at half-mast in observance.

UN Resident Coordinator Khalid Malik said the thoughts and hopes of the UN went to bereaved families.

“The ache in our souls is almost too much to bear,” he said. “We believe, under the leadership of the Chinese Government, the Chinese people will overcome the devastating effects of this catastrophe. We are ready to further provide any possible support and comfort in the relief and rehabilitation efforts.”