One week on from the deadly earthquake in Nepal, Save the Children warns that nearly a third of a million children face months sleeping out in harsh conditions after their houses were destroyed.
The charity is warning that in the most remote mountainous regions, only reachable currently by helicopter, children and babies are sleeping outdoors without any protection from the cold night-time temperatures and heavy rainfall.
In more accessible areas tarpaulins, blankets and baby kits have been distributed in temporary displacement camps, but children remain vulnerable to disease from the cold and unsanitary conditions they are living in.
Kesang, a first time mother speaking from a maternity ward, said she was terrified of taking her new born baby back to sleep outside. "We only have a plastic sheet to cover us and the ground easily becomes flooded – we have to stay standing all night. Disease spreads easily in these conditions, I'm really worried that my baby and I will get sick."
Parents sleeping outside are reporting fevers, outbreaks of diarrhoea and the risk of pneumonia. These is also a serious risk from asbestos – many homes and offices in Nepal were built using asbestos and the earthquake has exposed it.
Delailah Borja, Save the Children's Country Director in Nepal, said: "A week on from the earthquake, the full scale of the devastation is just becoming clear. Many of these 320,000 children have lost everything – their homes, their warm clothes and tragically sometimes their families."
"The risk of disease outbreaks and exposure are very real, especially for young children. That is why we are moving fast to get hygiene kits, tarpaulins and warm children's sleeping bags out to everyone who needs it."
Save the Children has distributed much of its existing in-country emergency relief stock, reaching thousands of people with shelter kits, baby clothes, cooking utensils and more. Three planes and several trucks have been loaded with more supplies in India, Dubai and Philippines and have begun to arrive in Nepal.
The organisation is also now setting up Child Friendly Spaces for children to play and be safe in the displacement camps that have sprung up across the affected areas.
Spokespeople available on location in Nepal:
+44 (0)7785 527663 (please send SMS if unable to reach by phone)
For further information or to arrange interviews please email [email protected] or call the 24-hour media line on +44 7831650409
Notes to Editors
- The 320,000 figure is based on OCHA data which estimated that more than 160,000 houses in Nepal have been totally destroyed.
- The average household size in Nepal is five people, which would mean 800,000 people are estimated to be homeless. As children constitute 40% of the population, that would mean approximately 320,000 children have seen their home destroyed.