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UNICEF emergency supplies reach flood victims in Myanmar

Press release from UNICEF | July 13, 2007

Yangon, Rakhine, Myanmar - UNICEF emergency supplies have arrived in Thandwe township in Myanmar's Rakhine State to help families affected by the recent floods there.

Rakhine, the western coastal state bordering Bangladesh, was hit by torrential rains at the beginning of July. Many of its townships -- including Thandwe, Buthidaung and Minpya -- were badly affected. Flooding has also been reported in areas near the central and southern coasts.

"The floodwaters have destroyed houses and covered the floors of hospitals, health posts and schools with mud," said UNICEF Representative in Myanmar Ramesh Shrestha.

"The mud has also contaminated hundreds of drinking wells and has blocked latrines," Mr. Shrestha continued. "We are concerned, therefore, about the health of the communities depending on these wells."

UNICEF dispatched essential drug kits by air to aid hospitals and health posts damaged by the floods. In addition, some 36,000 water-purification tablets and 1,000 packets of oral rehydration salts were distributed to help families cope in the aftermath.

Further bulk supplies, especially chlorine-based water purification powder, will be sent by road as soon as possible (such supplies cannot be sent by air). Also slated for overland delivery are 350 family kits and additional supplies of oral rehydration salts. The family kits include clothes, soap, cooking utensils, mosquito bednets to prevent malaria and tarpaulins for shelter.

To prevent outbreaks of diseases such as dengue fever, UNICEF Myanmar is expediting the printing of 100,000 health information leaflets to be distributed to families at risk.

UNICEF field monitoring officers, who were in Rakhine State to help monitor a polio vaccination campaign when the floods struck, are now conducting a rapid assessment of the further needs of flood-affected communities.

The situation in Myanmar is part of a wider flood crisis caused by monsoon rains and cyclones affecting millions of already vulnerable children in South and East Asia. Other countries hit by the floods include Pakistan, India and Afghanistan.

Article has been adapted from a news release issued by UNICEF.

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