3 September 2008The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is working with its humanitarian partners in Nepal to address some of the specific needs of women and children who have been displaced by the recent floods in the country’s east. Almost 30 shelter sites have been set up so far to accommodate the increasing numbers of internally displaced persons (IDPs), which the Government estimates to be around 107,000. Children are said to make up nearly half of that number. In the affected districts of Sunsari and Saptari, UNICEF has distributed 1,000 blankets for small children and is procuring 10,000 clothing kits for children and young people – along with 3,000 bedding and clothing kits for pregnant and lactating women. UNICEF has already reached 10,000 people and is planning to reach the total of 55,000 living in temporary shelters in the affected districts. In addition, the agency and its partners are installing 320 bathing spaces in the shelters especially for women and adolescent girls, to address privacy and security concerns. UNICEF is also advocating for, and establishing, separate toilets for males and females, and has requested that proper lighting and security patrols be implemented at night to reduce the risk of violence against women. The agency is working with local partners to monitor and report on protection issues in the shelters – and to ensure that psycho-social support is provided to those in need. Meanwhile, UNICEF is helping the non-governmental organization (NGO) Save the Children to establish at least 30 safe spaces for young people in Sunsari. The spaces will support a variety of activities, including early childhood development, informal schooling, life-skills training, psycho-social support and recreation for children. Disease and malnutrition are some of UNICEF’s main concerns for children in the affected areas, given the lack of access to safe water and nutritional food. Pregnant and lactating women are also at risk due to these factors. Based on a preliminary assessment, the agency says it needs almost $1.8 million to provide humanitarian assistance to children and women in the affected areas.