Quake-hit Nepal kids still without safe classrooms: Unicef

Kathmandu, April 24 (IANS) A year after a devastating 7.9-magnitude earthquake hit Nepal, 1.6 million school children in affected areas are still without safe classrooms and starting their new academic year in temporary structures.

While recovery and reconstruction efforts are moving ahead, much remains to be done to ensure a rapid return to normal learning environment for these children, according to UN children’s fund Unicef.

On the first anniversary of the disaster, Unicef on Sunday said there is a need to redouble the efforts to ensure that children can study in safe transitional or permanent classrooms as early as possible.

“The devastating earthquakes last year destroyed or severely damaged over 35,000 classrooms. After that, efforts were made to bring children back to school as soon as possible to minimise disruption of their education and exposure to risks of neglect, exploitation and violence,” said Tomoo Hozumi, Unicef representative to Nepal.

The April 25 quake cost Nepal in financial damages and losses equivalent to 36 percent of its GDP.

Further prolongation of uncertainty can affect not only the education of children but also their health, nutrition, protection and overall development.

Of the 188,900 people who had been temporarily displaced after the earthquake, 26,272 are still living in camps. Children living in the shelters are also vulnerable to various risks, including trafficking.

“A lot of work has been done for humanitarian relief and recovery in the affected districts so that education continues and outbreak of diseases and severe malnutrition is avoided. But the country still has a long and hard road toward full recovery,” said Hozumi.

Unicef has worked with the Nepal government and partners to identify and register 39,337 unaccompanied, separated and vulnerable children.

Of them, 13,317 were provided with emergency support that they required.

–IANS

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