27 October 2009Humanitarian AidUnited Nations agencies continue to aid scores of thousands of Indonesians after last month’s 7.9-magnitude earthquake ravaged parts of western Sumatra island, leaving nearly 200,000 households in need of emergency shelter and other assistance. The UN World Food Programme (WFP), targeting children under five as well as pregnant or lactating mothers and primary school children, has aided more than 68,000 people, distributing distributed 25 metric tons of biscuits between 21 and 25 October, for a total of 178 metric tons of biscuits and noodles since the disaster struck.The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) is currently assisting some 30,000 women and girls of reproductive age in the worst affected areas, including over 1,650 pregnant women.Early food and nutrition assessments reveal approximately 38,000 households, or 190,000 people, in the most affected areas are experiencing temporary shortages of staple foods such as rice, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported. The Government estimates that rehabilitation and reconstruction will cost $745 million after the quake and aftershocks on 30 September triggered landslides, wiping out entire villages, killing an estimated 1,117 people, injuring 1,214 others and affecting is 1.2 million.Funding for emergency water trucking is urgently needed for the next two months. Only 20 percent Padang City’s population is connected to the water network, and an estimated 650,000 people rely on trucking or bottled water for daily supplies.The West Sumatra Humanitarian Response Plan, launched on 9 October in partnership with the Government, is seeking $38.1 million for emergency needs to be addressed within 90 days. The UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has already allocated nearly $7. Additional donor contributions for several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been reported, raising the funding total to nearly $12 million.
In a report, Danger Every Step of the Way, released today, UNICEF found that 7,009 unaccompanied children made the crossing from North Africa to Italy in the first five months of the year, twice as many as this past year. “It is a silent and desperate situation – out of sight and out of mind. Yet tens of thousands of children face danger every day and hundreds of thousands more are prepared to risk everything,” said Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF Special Coordinator for the Refugee and Migrant crisis in Europe. “We urgently need to protect these children from all types of abuse and exploitation by those taking advantage of the situation to exploit their dreams.” The report documents the risks that adolescents take in their flight to escape conflict, despair and poverty. Unaccompanied children generally rely on human smugglers, often under a system of ‘pay as you go’, which opens them to exploitation, UNICEF said. A total of 2,809 deaths were recorded in the Mediterranean between 1 January and 5 June 2016, as compared with 3,770 for the whole of 2015. The vast majority were on the Central Mediterranean route – and many were children, according to the report. From Somalia to Italy, Omar’s miraculous story of survivalUNICEF noted that some adolescents are sexually abused and exploited. Italian social workers told the agency that both girls and boys were sexually assaulted and forced into prostitution while in Libya, and that some of the girls were pregnant when they arrived in Italy, having been raped. However, because of the illicit nature of human smuggling operations, there are no reliable figures to show how many of the refugees and migrants die, disappear into forced labour or prostitution, or linger in detention, UNICEF said. With summer upon the Mediterranean, the latest numbers of children on the Central Mediterranean route may well be just the tip of the iceberg, according to UNICEF. Another 235,000 migrants are currently in Libya, tens of thousands of them unaccompanied children. “Every country – those the children leave, those they cross and those in which they seek asylum – has an obligation to establish protection systems focused on the risks that unaccompanied children face,” Ms. Poirier said. “In the European Union and other destination countries, there is an opportunity for policy and legislative reforms to lead to more opportunities for safe, legal and regular channels for these children,” she added.