February 23, 2007 16:29 ET

UNICEF: Children Are the Hardest Hit by Cyclone Favio and Flooding in Mozambique

UNICEF Canada opens funding appeal

MAPUTO, MOZAMBIQUE and TORONTO, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Feb. 23, 2007) - Children are bearing the brunt of tropical Cyclone Favio, said UNICEF today as staff on the ground in Mozambique began their emergency response to the second disaster to hit the country in less than a month.

"This cyclone strikes a severe blow to an area that has already been devastated by flooding over the past few weeks," said Leila Pakkala, head of UNICEF's Country Office in Mozambique. "Children account for half of the affected populations."

A UNICEF assessment team landed today in Vilankulos, the first town to be hit by Cyclone Favio, to conduct a rapid needs assessment with government and other partners. Strong winds - reaching over 200 km/hour - seriously damaged homes and crucial public facilities, including blowing roofs off of schools and the maternity ward of the town's main hospital.

As part of an initial response in the cyclone-affected areas, UNICEF is deploying emergency supplies from its warehouse in Maputo, including chlorine, large water bladders, water tanks, tarpaulin and plastic sheeting for shelter, and recreational kits.

Mozambique's National Institute of Disaster Management estimates that prior to the cyclone, approximately 140,000 Mozambicans were already displaced from their homes due to severe flooding around the Zambezi River Valley. UNICEF teams have already been working on the ground in the flood-affected areas of Caia, Mopeia and Mutarara.

Key priorities at this stage for the emergency response in cyclone and flood-affected areas include providing clean water, temporary latrines, health education materials (including hygiene promotion and cholera and malaria prevention information) and emergency nutrition supplies to combat moderate malnutrition. Children living in displacement conditions are currently at very high risk of contracting water-borne diseases -- particularly cholera -- and water, sanitation and health interventions are critical. UNICEF is also working with partner NGOs to ensure the distribution of insecticide-treated nets to prevent malaria infection.

In addition to disease threats, there is also a risk that landmines left over from past conflicts may have become dislodged by flood waters. UNICEF is bringing mine risk education materials from Angola into potentially-affected areas to prepare for this possible threat to children.

According to UNICEF, the impact of this and other natural disasters on families in Mozambique is devastating, as the country is already deeply affected by poverty and by HIV/AIDS. There are 1.6 million orphaned children in Mozambique, and UNICEF is working to ensure that orphaned and vulnerable children affected by the current emergency are cared for and protected.

Donations to UNICEF Canada's Mozambique appeal can be made online at www.unicef.ca, by telephone at 1-877-955-3111, or by mail at UNICEF Canada, 2200 Yonge St., Suite 1100, Toronto, ON, M4S 2C6.

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.

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