NEW YORK, 24 January 2012 – The State of Kuwait has contributed $250,000 to UNICEF in Turkey to support UNICEF’s humanitarian response to victims of the Van earthquake. The support was announced by His Excellency Mansour Ayyad Al-Otaibi, Permanent Representative of Kuwait to the United Nations.
On 23 October 2011, an earthquake measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale hit the province of Van in eastern Turkey. Some 604 people were killed and over 4,000 injured as dozens of buildings, including multi-story apartment blocks and schoolteachers’ lodgings, collapsed or were seriously damaged.
Due to continuing seismic activity and the assumption that most buildings have been damaged and weakened, much of the population in the affected areas, which had a total population of up to 600,000 – almost half of them children – was effectively left homeless. In many respects, normal life has not resumed.
Tens of thousands of people have left the region. Of these, about 35,000 are accommodated in state guest houses and other public buildings in other provinces. Most survivors remain in the region, living in tents, tent cities or in some cases container homes, in harsh winter conditions, pending other arrangements.
UNICEF’s response to this emergency has been prioritising interventions in the areas of education and child protection, concentrating its efforts in helping schoolchildren and children up to five years of age to regain a sense of normalcy in the aftermath of the emergency.
UNICEF has set up 40 classroom units, each made up of two specialised containers, and of 10 container-based washroom and sanitation units. In addition to the classroom units previously delivered, UNICEF has delivered eight container-based living units to accommodate 24 school counsellors/guidance centre staff, as well as supplied 190 recreation kits and 190 early childhood development kits, each containing sufficient materials for 50 children.
UNICEF is ensuring that psychosocial support is provided to all children affected by the emergency, including those who have lost family members and friends. UNICEF is training social workers to provide psychosocial support on a “tent-to-tent” basis and providing psychosocial support training to 237 guidance and counselling teachers and 215 Guidance and Counselling Centre personnel in Van.
UNICEF plans to provide further container units and other equipment and materials in this context, as well as early childhood development kits.