Vaalele Eti in Tsunami Hit Samoa Vaalele Eti in Tsunami Hit Samoa CREDIT: David Youngmeyer UNICEF

UNICEF Responding to the Tsunami Disaster in Samoa

Monday 5 October 2009, 6:24PM
By UNICEF New Zealand

The welfare of 2,000 displaced children is among UNICEF’s greatest concerns following the Pacific Tsunami. 40 villages were badly hit by the Tsunami in Samoa, and 20 destroyed including 5 schools.
In order to prevent the outbreak of disease UNICEF aims to reach 11 000 children with Vitamin A and Measles vaccines. The target group will be children from birth through to 18 months.

A UNICEF education specialist will arrive in Samoa tomorrow to work alongside the Ministry of Education to make getting children back to school a priority. To make the task easier 14 Early Childhood Development Kits and 10 “Pacific Kits” (containing school and recreational materials) supplied by UNICEF are already on hand. The Ministry of Education wants children who go to schools which were undamaged by the tsunami to begin classes tomorrow. An education assessment will also begin tomorrow to determine the needs of displaced children.

Essential supplies of food, water, shelter, and clothing and sanitation facilities remain a top priority. While those families fortunate enough to be staying with relatives are well catered for this situation may change as the food supplies of the host families are used up.

The resiliency of Samoan communities is being seen as people begin to salvage materials for reconstruction. UNICEF New Zealand Communications Manager, David Youngmeyer, spoke to Kiwi Samoan Vaalele Eti, from Auckland who was visiting family in Samoa when the tsunami hit.

“The disaster has not only destroyed their home and possessions. It’s changed their lives in innumerable ways. The shop run by Vaalele’s father was an important source of income, some of which went to support the children’s education. Now that’s gone. The children and adults no longer feel safe in what was their home and they have trouble sleeping. How many times has this story been repeated in individual lives?”

UNICEF is working alongside other partners including the New Zealand and Australian Governments as a co-ordinated recovery response is undertaken. UNICEF’s key areas of focus are Education, Water and Sanitation and Child Protection.