Iraq Japan becomes UN Childrens Funds top donor

“We are delighted that Japan has responded so quickly and so generously to the urgent needs of Iraqi children,” UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy said in a statement. “The needs are very urgent and we are grateful for this strong and early support.”Most of Iraq’s 8,500 schools need repairs or clean-up, and another 5,000 need to be built to accommodate all of Iraq’s 12 million school-age children, the agency said. At present, a shortage of safe school facilities and trained teachers force many schools to operate on shifts. Poor hygiene and sanitation in primary schools is also a serious concern; less than half of all primary schools have access to potable water. UNICEF has begun delivering the first of more than 50,000 “school-in-a-box” kits to classrooms across the country. Each kit contains learning supplies and teaching aids to meet the needs of 80 children. When the deliveries are finished, UNICEF will have provided supplies like pencils, notepads and slate boards for some 4 million children in primary schools.Japan’s latest gift will help more than 1 million children in three cities, UNICEF said. About $3.5 million of the donation will be used to help rehabilitate 70 schools – 30 in Baghdad and 40 in the south of the country. The bulk of the funds, some $6.2 million, will buy teaching and learning supplies.

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