One year on, UNICEF continues support to China’s quake victims

One year on, UNICEF continues support to China’s quake victims

Schoolchildren on way to  temporary classrooms in earthquake-affected Gansu province, China
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is continuing its assistance to women and children in China’s Sichuan province, as they seek to rebuild their lives after last year’s devastating earthquake.

On 12 May 2008, the south-west Chinese province was hit by the country’s worst earthquake in three decades. The quake, measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale, left nearly 100,000 people either dead or missing, and almost 400,000 injured.

It also damaged or destroyed millions of homes, leaving five million people homeless, and caused extensive damage to basic infrastructure, including schools, hospitals, roads, and water systems.

A new report released today in Beijing details how UNICEF has assisted the Government in education, health, nutrition, clean water, sanitation, psychosocial support, child protection, HIV/AIDS and social policies for children.

“The scale of the Sichuan earthquake was large and the Government of China has made tremendous progress in providing shelter for families, getting children back to school and repairing damaged infrastructure in the earthquake zone,” said Dr. Yin Yin Nwe, UNICEF Representative for China.

“We will continue to support these efforts, with emphasis on children and women, as there are still many families who need assistance to return to their normal lives.”

The agency has provided $20 million dollars for earthquake relief and recovery over the past year. Assistance has reached nearly 30 counties and districts across Sichuan, as well as Gansu and Shaanxi provinces, covering 2.5 million children and four million women. UNICEF plans to continue assistance for earthquake recovery through 2011.

About half of UNICEF’s funds have supported health, water and sanitation interventions, while one third has gone toward helping children return to safe, well equipped, “child friendly” schools. The rest has supported child protection, psychosocial support, shelter and other costs.

“We were only able to respond as quickly and effectively as we did to support the Chinese Government’s efforts in this emergency because of the swift and generous support of our donors,” said Dr. Nwe.

UNICEF, which relies entirely on voluntary donations to help meet the needs of children, has received donations totalling $37 million so far. It is aiming to raise a total of $45 million to finance its medium- to long-term projects in the earthquake zone.