August 15, 2008 12:43 ET

UNICEF Receives $7.7 Million From Canada to Aid Disaster Relief

UNICEF Continues Work to Save and Improve the Lives of Children in Myanmar and China

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Aug. 15, 2008) - UNICEF Canada is grateful to the Government of Canada and the Honourable Beverley J. Oda, Minister of International Cooperation, for the generous contribution to UNICEF of $4 million to help children affected by the recent earthquake in China, and another $3.7 million for those affected by Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar.

CIDA's contribution matches funds donated to UNICEF by Canadians who promptly responded to the disasters in Myanmar and China, which occurred within days of one another.

"We commend CIDA for matching funds that Canadians generously donated for both emergencies," says Nigel Fisher, President & CEO, and UNICEF Canada. "This additional funding will help UNICEF continue the very important humanitarian work that is being done to make sure that children are safe, healthy and in school despite the crises they have been experiencing.

"I would like to thank most sincerely the thousands of Canadians who responded promptly to our emergency appeals to help children and families in distress," Fisher said.

UNICEF in China

In China, Canada's matching contribution of $4 million to UNICEF will support clean water supply, sanitation and hygiene; health care, nutrition and social protection activities (such as child-friendly spaces) for 100,000 vulnerable children and their families in both camps and scattered settlements.

The earthquake in China hit children especially hard. It struck during the early afternoon on a school day when almost every child was in a classroom. Twelve per cent of the dead or missing are school-aged children and teachers. With one out of every seven schools in Sichuan damaged by the earthquake, and all students returning to class in the fall, the demand for new child-friendly learning spaces will be enormous.

UNICEF China has already supplied more than 1,200 tents which will serve as temporary classrooms for 56,000 children. UNICEF is providing additional classroom tents, mobile toilets, and another 3,500 school-in-a-box kits (portable education kits) so that children can continue their education.

In the coming months, UNICEF China will implement a programme to improve maternal and child health care in the earthquake-affected areas. UNICEF China continues to work closely with government partners to provide psycho-social support to children and parents affected by the earthquake, offering both group therapy and individual support to those children showing initial signs of more serious trauma. UNICEF will establish 30 more child-friendly spaces for displaced children to provide a safe and supportive environment.

UNICEF Canada continues to solicit funds for earthquake recovery in China. More than $6 million is still needed to ensure affected children have access to education, health care, clean water, and also to ensure displaced children have safe places to go and be cared for.

UNICEF in Myanmar

In early May, Myanmar was hit by the worst ever natural disaster experienced in the country's history, the Cyclone Nargis. The cyclone destroyed or damaged over 4,000 schools and more than 600 health facilities, contaminated 4,000 drinking water wells and separated hundreds of young children from their parents and close relatives.

With staff on the ground in nine zones across the country, UNICEF was among the first to reach the affected population, distributing pre-positioned emergency supplies and assisting the government and NGOs, both national and international in addressing health issues in the affected areas. UNICEF dispatched emergency drugs and medical supplies including oral rehydtration salts, antibiotics, vaccines and Vitamin A in quantities large enough to treat 600,000 children and helps to prevent from possible outbreaks of severe diarrhoea, malaria and dengue fever.

Canada's matching contribution of $3.7 million to UNICEF will help provide safe water and prevent waterborne diseases among cyclone-affected children and their families. UNICEF will also provide shelter, household items, vaccines and essential drugs to those most affected by cyclone Nargis. Finally, UNICEF will focus on establishing safe environments for Children and women.

The UNICEF office in Myanmar will continue to assist in the recovery of the affected children, as long as there is a need. It is expected that relief efforts will continue at least one more year.

Currently, the focus is on repairing damage and giving children a sense of normalcy with child-friendly spaces and an emphasis on returning to school. UNICEF has an opportunity to help build back better by making substantial improvements in the social services made available for children and their families.

"Through their contributions, Canadians have touched many children affected by these two natural disasters. Unfortunately, the recovery work is far from finished and UNICEF Canada will continue to accept donations for children and families in Myanmar and China to help both of these countries rebuild and rehabilitate," Fisher said.

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.

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