60,000 children need help after Cyclone Pam strike, says UNICEF

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A child watches as Cyclone Pam hits Vanuatu. Photo: UNICEF Pacific

Some 60,000 children are believed to need help in Vanuatu as the UN gears up its emergency response to the aftermath of hurricane Pam – one of the most powerful tropical cyclones to make landfall.

In addition to flooded schools and hospitals, 250 kilometre an hour winds have caused widespread destruction throughout the already vulnerable island nation, the UN says.

Assessing the needs on the ground remains difficult but agencies including UNICEF, World Food Programme (WFP) and World Health Organization (WHO) have set to work.

Daniel Johnson has more:

With more than 80 islands to Vanuatu’s name, UN agencies said Tuesday it's difficult to assess the exact needs of people everywhere.

For UN children's agency UNICEF the first priority is ensuring that people have clean water so they don't fall sick.

Here's spokesperson Christophe Boulierac:

"There is just a problem with drinking water and we want to make sure there won't be any outbreak of diarrhoea…"

According to World Food Programme almost two-thirds of the country's population – that’s 170,000 people – have been affected by the cyclone.

The agency said that harvests had been "seriously affected" and that's potentially critical since 80 per cent of the population of Vanuatu has a link to agriculture.

World Health Organization said the main hospital and roads had been damaged, increasing the risk of diseases taking hold.

These include measles, which were already present before Pam struck, WHO said.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations

Duration: 0'58"



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