Saturday, June 23, 2018

UNICEF resumes its commitment of support to Hela

PORT MORESBY, 22 JUNE 2018 - UNICEF is preparing to resume response and recovery support to earthquake affected communities in Hela after conflict and violence forced UNICEF, aid and relief workers, and other UN agencies to briefly relocate in April as a security precautionary measure.
Aid nurse with UNICEF, Martina screens two-year-old Shenilda’s arm for malnutrition at Tate village, Southern Highlands. UNICEF is supporting a child health program that has screened more than 8000 children for severe acute malnutrition. The programme is ongoing in two districts of Southern Highlands: Mendi-Munihu and Nipa-Kutubu, where 32 children have been identified and  are being treated.

Over 115,000 children under the age of 18 including some 32,000 under five years and close to 8,000 infants are expected to directly benefit from health, nutrition, education, child protection and water, sanitation and hygiene activities that UNICEF will support the Government to implement in Hela.

At a partnership review meeting held on June 8 with local partners - Catholic Diocese of Mendi, Southern Highlands Provincial Health Authority, Caritas, Provincial Child and Family Welfare Services and the Provincial Education Department - UNICEF reiterated its commitment to fulfill its humanitarian obligations to the children of Hela and Southern Highlands provinces.
UNICEF and partners pose for a photo following the review meeting held at the Catholic Diocese of Mendi on Friday, June 8, 2018.

“We are happy to be able to go back to Hela where we will continue to work with the Government and our partners to provide much needed assistance to the children who desperately need help.

"We have been working together since the earthquakes devastated communities and destroyed livelihoods and we intend to continue our support,” UNICEF Representative, David Mcloughlin said after the review meeting.

Mcloughlin added that a two-month integrated child health campaign planned to kick off in mid-July will provide immunisation and nutrition services for.children while the establishment of Child Friendly Spaces will offer psychosocial support to children who have been traumatised by the earthquakes.

“Children from badly damaged schools will be able to continue their education through Temporary Learning Spaces that we will support our partners to set up.

"We will also provide water tanks and
construct Ventilated Improved Pits (VIP) latrines in these schools to promote good hygiene and sanitation practices,” Mcloughlin said.
Aye Win (UNICEF WASH Specialist), Sam ­Walne (Catholic Diocese of Mendi programme manager) discussing pit latrine construction issues with John Wanpis, the teacher in charge at Kundaka Elementary School, during the inspection of the new latrines under construction. Kundaka is one of 10 schools in the province to have recently benefited from the partnership between UNICEF and the Catholic Diocese of Mendi.

To date, UNICEF’s on-going response and recovery support in Southern Highlands and Hela provinces has seen more than 2000 children continue their education in 20 Temporary Learning Spaces with education supplies that UNICEF provided for teachers and students.

Over 8000 children have been screened for Severe Acute Malnutrition, and more than 9000 children vaccinated while 12,000 children received deworming tablets.

More than 3000 children now have access to safe water and proper toilets after UNICEF distributed water tanks to 10 schools and constructed VIP latrines for students.

Many more children and women received psychosocial support and referral services under a Learning and Empowerment project that the UN in partnership with the Australian Government supports.

UNICEF has been providing ongoing response and recovery support in Southern Highlands since March following February’s 7.5 magnitude earthquake and numerous aftershocks that hit four provinces and caused major devastation in Southern Highlands and Hela provinces killing more than 100 people and injuring many more.

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