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UNICEF Concerned About Flooding in Vietnam - 2001-09-20


The United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF, says it is concerned about widespread flooding in Vietnam's Mekong Delta. AUNICEF says that bout 750,000 people are affected and the flooding is taking a particularly heavy toll on children.

UNICEF says close to 150,000 households have been affected by the flooding, which is said to be the worst in four decades. It says thousands of families have been evacuated and are living in makeshift shelters along local roadways. It says thousands more still are trapped in their homes.

UNICEF spokeswoman Lynn Geldof says a disproportionate number of Vietnamese children are falling victim to the flood. She says out of 122 deaths, 108 are children. "The government has opened up more child daycare centers where parents can drop off their children during this flood because if the children are in some safe location, they are less likely to wander," says Lynn Geldorf. "The children get drowned because their parents have to go off to work or to find food, as basic as that. And, these are young children under the age of four or five. So these daycare centers are one thing that is happening and UNICEF is going to support that carry on."

Ms. Geldof says about 200,000 Vietnamese children have been forced out of school because of the floods. She says there is no indication that the situation is improving. She says water levels are already at their second highest levels in the past 40 years and will remain dangerously high for many weeks to come.

Ms. Geldof says UNICEF is providing three floating medical clinics to reach people in flood ravaged provinces. "These boats can pull up and dock anywhere and they are manned, apart from the boat crew, by two doctors and two nurses and a pharmacist who give free or low-cost medical assistance," she says. "You know, they do check-ups and they give drugs as required."

Ms. Geldof says many children are suffering from diarrhea and acute respiratory infections. She says the government, with the help of aid agencies such as UNICEF, is coping for now and is not asking for international financial assistance. But, she adds this could change.