May 16, 2008 12:05 ET

Children in Crisis in Myanmar and China

UNICEF Reaches Remote Areas in Myanmar and Distributes Supplies in China

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - May 16, 2008) - UNICEF workers on the ground in Myanmar report that the situation is dire for children and more aid is urgently needed.

At the same time, UNICEF is also responding to the earthquake crisis in China delivering life-saving supplies to children who have survived this latest devastating natural disaster.

"This is a critical time for children in Myanmar, as well as in China," said Nigel Fisher, President & CEO of UNICEF Canada. "We are calling on Canadians to support the life-saving work that UNICEF is doing in these countries. Your donation dollars are extremely important right now."

UNICEF Taking Action in Myanmar

UNICEF staff on the ground in Myanmar report that the destruction of homes, schools and water and sanitation systems are posing terrible threats to children's lives and well-being.

In the 14th day after the cyclone struck, UNICEF warned that children who survived the cyclone are now at an increasing risk of disease and of the consequences of such a devastating cyclone and not receiving timely assistance. Thousands of children are in temporary shelters under frequent rainstorms, particularly in the Yangon region.

Because of a permanent presence in the country, UNICEF has been able to mobilize quickly and effectively distribute available emergency supplies.

UNICEF has fielded more than 70 missions into affected regions distributing essential survival kits, including plastic sheeting for shelter, water purification materials, medicines and mosquito nets, and cooking materials.

Current United Nations estimates put the total number of severely affected people at up to 2.5 million. UNICEF teams report that in the areas they have visited some 40 per cent of those severely affected are children. If the patterns UNICEF staff are seeing in the devastated areas are representative, there may be as many as one million children in need of urgent assistance.

A flight due to land tomorrow - UNICEF's fourth - will carry several tonnes of therapeutic food for malnourished children. Thirty-four trucks, small enough to travel safely over the damaged roads and bridges, have already been dispatched throughout the Yangon and Irawaddy districts.

UNICEF Responds to the Earthquake in China

Meanwhile, in China, in support of the Chinese government's massive relief efforts, UNICEF is also responding to the urgent needs of children affected by the earthquake that struck the Sichuan province of China. Thousands of children are among the victims of the earthquake which struck in the middle of the school day. The immediate days following a natural disaster require a rapid response to mitigate the possibility of secondary loss of life, spread of disease and trauma to children.

Over the next 48 hours, UNICEF staff are delivering life-saving supplies including tents, blankets and school kits. Additional health, water and sanitation materials are being procured for immediate distribution in China.

"The loss of children's lives in this massive earthquake in Sichuan Province is truly heartbreaking," said Fisher. "UNICEF wants to help China ensure that survivors receive urgent care and medical attention and have access to clean water and sanitation to prevent further sickness and death."

The total number of children in Sichuan schools is 12.2 million. The total number of children in school in the hardest hit counties is 2.3 million. Authorities on the ground have determined it is no longer possible to keep track of the number of schools and public buildings that have collapsed burying many children and adults under rubble.

UNICEF Canada launched new emergency appeals yesterday to urgently raise much-needed funds to support UNICEF's relief efforts in both China and Myanmar. All donations will be used directly to assist children and families in the specified country. Donations can be made online at www.unicef.ca or by calling 1-877-955-3111.


UNICEF is the world's leader for children, working in 156 countries and territories to save, protect and enhance the lives of girls and boys. UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, promotes quality basic education, protects children from violence, exploitation and AIDS, and is the world's largest provider of vaccines for developing nations. A global leader in emergencies with six decades of on-the-ground experience, UNICEF saves and rebuilds children's lives in natural disasters and conflict. UNICEF is funded entirely by voluntary contributions from individuals, businesses, foundations, schools, associations and governments.

Contact Information

  • UNICEF Canada
    Karen Snider
    Media Relations Officer
    (416) 482-4444 ext. 831 or Cell: (647) 203-7455
    Email: ksnider@unicf.ca
    UNICEF Canada
    Kathleen Powderley
    (416) 482-4444 ext. 810 or Cell: (416) 803-5597
    Email: kpowderley@unicef.ca
    Website: www.unicef.ca