7 August, 2014 - China earthquake: Urgent relief required for children as toll rises

Sven Coppen, Country Director for Plan International in China, is available for grabs and interviews from Beijing. Please contact Adam Cathro on 0488 202 945 to arrange.

The core needs of children are not being met following the 6.5-magnitude earthquake in China’s Yunnan Province on August 3, including concerns around safety issues, delivery of relief kits, and mitigating the damage to schools, says NGO Plan International Australia.

Plan is implementing a detailed response to address these needs in Yunnan.

The death toll from the earthquake has risen to 589 people, with a further 2,401 injured. 229,700 people have been displaced and over 676,000 houses damaged. In addition, almost 100 schools have been damaged with approximately 50,000 affected in Ludian County, where the damage has been most severe.

Plan is appealing for donations to fund relief kits for children and their families, and establish Child Friendly Spaces, which provide for secure, safe, and healthy spaces where children can continue to learn.

“School is supposed to start on September 1, and we need to provide spaces where children can be safe, secure, and continue to play and learn, and where parents can be confident that their children are being looked after as communities struggle to recover from this tragedy,” says Sven Coppens, Plan’s Country Director in China.

Coppens notes that when a disaster like this happens, it is children who are the most vulnerable. Not only are their schools often damaged or unsafe, but with the loss of a school facility, there often is nowhere else secure for them to go; at the same time, health, hygiene, food and clean water become much more scarce, and hundreds of thousands have been displaced from their homes.

“Plan aims to fill that gap by distributing relief kits, providing safe spaces for children, and leading a range of safe school activities in the region,” says Coppens.

“Children often get forgotten in the rush that follows a natural disaster, and Plan is there to help children and their families and ensure that kids are safe and can continue to play and learn.”

Following the earthquake, Plan International immediately deployed a rapid response team to the areas impacted by the earthquake. The response is being coordinated by the government of the People’s Republic of China, with international and local NGOs and relief agencies supporting these efforts.

Plan International works in several communities throughout Yunnan Province. The communities that Plan works in are not in the areas affected by the earthquake and no Plan-sponsored children are reported to have been injured.

With a population of 480,000, Ludian county is a primarily agricultural area. Zhaotong City, the main urban centre in the county, is about 300 kilometres from Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province, where Plan International has an office.

Plan International will continue to provide media updates and on Twitter @PlanAsia.

For photos from the earthquake area, click here:

http://bit.ly/chinaquake Please credit ‘Plan International Australia’

Editors’ notes:
Plan is one of the oldest and largest children's development organisations in the world, founded 75 years ago, working in 50 developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas and supported by 21 donor countries. Plan is independent, with no religious or political affiliations.

Media contact: Adam Cathro, Plan International Australia, Media Relations Manager, 0488 202 945