UNITED NATIONS – The magnitude-7.8 earthquake that struck Ecuador’s northern Pacific coast on April 16 destroyed 280 schools, leaving 120,000 children without access to education, UNICEF said Tuesday.
UNICEF said it is helping the Ecuadorian government to install 50 temporary school buildings to accommodate roughly 20,000 children in the worst-affected areas.
The organization estimates that around $23 million will be needed in the coming months to meet the needs of children in terms of water, sanitation, education, health and shelter.
“Education is a lifeline for children who go through trauma and destruction,” according to UNICEF’s representative in Ecuador, Grant Leaity, because it gives them “a daily routine and a future direction for their psychological recovery.”
The quake in Ecuador is the Western Hemisphere’s worst natural disaster since the temblor that devastated Haiti in 2010, the UN humanitarian coordinator in the Andean nation said Tuesday.
The United Nations is making an urgent appeal for aid for Ecuador, Diego Zorrilla told a press conference in Quito.
The death toll from the quake stands at 655, according to the latest figures from the Ecuadorian government, while thousands of people have been forced from their homes.
The United Nations expects to raise $72.2 million to care for roughly 350,000 people over the next three months.