Date Published: 2 December 2008

UNICEF intensifies emergency response in Zimbabwe

Amidst an unprecedented cholera outbreak, the collapse of Zimbabwe's education sector and hospital closures, UNICEF Zimbabwe today announced a rigorous 120-day emergency response to intensify relief efforts to the country's children.

Zimbabwean children, already bearing the brunt of a shattered economy, severe food shortages, HIV/AIDS and failing social services, as well as suffering the acute effects of a lack of food, water and health care, are now succumbing to cholera and are not likely to return to school even after the Christmas break.

?Women and children are facing immense risks in Zimbabwe,”said UNICEF Representative, Roeland Monasch. ?Schools and hospitals are closing, while teachers, nurses and doctors are not reporting for duty. It is UNICEF's top priority to ensure that Zimbabwe's children get vital life saving interventions at this critical time.?

Relief efforts

The 120-day emergency response will see UNICEF focus on relief efforts in the provision of basic social services. UNICEF will increase health outreach services, provide nutritional supplements, boost school attendance, and scale up access to safe water in the short term.

Key life-saving interventions will include:

* Provision of clean water and sanitation;
* Procurement of essential medicines for 70 per cent of Zimbabwe's people;
* Support community-based therapeutic feeding centres by providing ready-to-use nutritional foods across the country;
* Reaching 1.5 million children with immunisation services;
* Scale up educational support to communities and schools through provision of learning materials;
* Emergency support and protection for 250,000 orphans and vulnerable children across the country; and
* Roll out a nationwide awareness campaign on cholera prevention.

The emergency plan will also provide incentives for teachers and nurses to return to work.
Children on the brink

Zimbabwe has recorded negative economic growth for the past nine years and the situation is exacerbated by:

* A high HIV prevalence of 16 per cent;
* The highest orphan percentage in the world (one in four children are orphaned);
* Food shortages - 5.1 million people will require food aid in January 2009; and
* A steady decline of social services for the past five years.

In the past eight weeks, the country has seen a total collapse of its education and health system. In addition, more than 11,735 cases and 484 deaths have been reported in the worst cholera outbreak the country has experienced in recent years.

The net effect on Zimbabwe's children has been no schooling, a serious threat to their life, lack of health care, safe water and reduced number of meals.

?Children in Zimbabwe are on the brink, and everyone's focus must now be on their survival,”said Mr. Monasch.

For more information, contact and 020 7430 0162.


Source: UNICEF Main Website.
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