DUBLIN/NEW YORK/ GENEVA/PANAMA CITY/QUITO, 19 April 2016 – At least 150,000 children have been affected by the April 15 earthquake in Ecuador, according to initial UNICEF estimates.
“We are in a race against time to protect children from disease and other risks common in such emergencies,” said Grant Leaity, UNICEF Representative in Ecuador.
In some of the worst-hit areas, mudslides are causing further damage to infrastructure and hindering access for relief teams and supplies. Some cities are still without full power and only 40 per cent of communication lines are working. The death toll is expected to rise when communications return.
UNICEF teams are on the ground in two of the worst-affected areas – Pedernales and Esmeraldas – assessing children’s needs and coordinating the response.
The children’s agency has been delivering thousands of mosquito nets, shelter materials and water purification tablets to earthquake survivors.
The agency was able to respond quickly because most of these emergency materials were pre-positioned in surrounding countries.
According to preliminary government reports, 805 buildings have been destroyed – hundreds more damaged and two hospitals have entirely collapsed in Portoviejo and Chone. 119 schools are damaged, affecting 88,000 children.
UNICEF is concerned about health, water and sanitation conditions in the coastal areas – which are already considered hotspots for Zika, Dengue, Malaria and Chikungunya.
Education and child protection are also being prioritised. UNICEF psychologists will work with young people traumatised by this week’s events.
Hundreds are already confirmed dead and it is likely the death toll will continue to rise as more accurate information begins to come through from remote regions. More than 2,500 people have been injured.
UNICEF has been working in Ecuador since 1973. For more than 40 years, it has advocated for their rights to quality education, good health, nutrition and protection from the first moment of life. UNICEF is there now for any children who need assistance in the wake of the earthquake.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
UNICEF can provide a spokesperson in Ecuador, on request.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.ie.
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