東亞及太平洋地區氣候變化嚴重衝擊兒童生活 兒童表示已感受到氣候變化的威力

 

東亞及太平洋地區氣候變化嚴重衝擊兒童生活 兒童表示已感受到氣候變化的威力

國際消息 00:50

14-11-11_cover曼谷/香港,2011年11月14日——根據聯合國兒童基金會(UNICEF)發表的《氣候變化與自然災害對東亞及太平洋地區兒童的影響》(Children’s Vulnerabilities to Climate Change and Disaster Impacts in East Asia and the Pacific)報告,氣候變化為人類的生活造成眾多負面影響,首當其衝的就是兒童。在東亞及太平洋地區數以百萬計的兒童本來已缺乏清潔食水飲用及適當的衞生設施,時刻面對着糧食危機及疾病的威脅,而氣候變化則會令到這些問題進一步惡化。

全球兒童致命的多個主要元兇,均顯示與氣候變化有莫大關連。研究證實,氣溫上升是會導致營養不良、霍亂、腸道疾病、登革熱及瘧疾等蚊媒傳染病風險增加的,由於兒童的免疫系統未發展成熟,因此,在一般情況下,兒童患上這些可致命疾病的風險較成年人為高,甚至會較容易因出現併發症而死亡。

這份報告由UNICEF委託專責小組,在印尼、基里巴斯、蒙古、菲律賓和瓦努阿圖5個地區進行研究。研究收集了當地兒童的意見及其他相關調查數據,總結出氣候變化的趨勢及對東亞及太平洋地區兒童所帶來的潛在影響。是次研究並獲得與國際科學界和健康界合作多年、曾參與出版《刺針(The Lancet)》 及《新科學家(New Scientist)》等逾2,000份期刊的Reed Elsevier 集團支持。

 

「報告提醒我們,氣候變化與兒童所面對的種種挑戰有著密切關係。」UNICEF東亞及太平洋地區主任Anupama Rao Singh女士續指,「報告亦讓我們得悉兒童面對氣候變化的切身經歷,及氣候變化對兒童的健康、教育和發展所帶來的獨有威脅。」

雖然報告顯示氣候變化的影響存在區域性的差異,但亦指出各地的兒童都正在一起承受氣候變化對環境造成的惡果。

A boy and his father walk with their fishing gear into the Pacific Ocean near Tarawa, the capital. In late 2006 in the Republic of Kiribati, childrens quality of life is declining, as it is across the region. Kiribati is one of 14 Pacific Island Countries, which form a group of atolls dispersed over 30 million square kilometres of the Pacific Ocean. Because populations are scattered across multiple islands, efficient delivery of health care, education and other social services is difficult. The region is also vulnerable to natural disasters like floods, typhoons and volcanic eruptions. While overall infant and under-five mortality rates have declined since 1990, some countries, including Kiribati, lag behind in improving child health and access to basic services. Across the region, birth registration systems are weak or fragmented. Sixty per cent of Pacific children are anaemic, and deficiencies in Vitamin A, iodine and other micronutrients are common. Immunization rates are declining in many nations, partly due to the challenge of maintaining the cold chain in remote islands. Some 20 per cent of Pacific Islanders have no access to improved drinking water, while 30 per cent lack sanitation facilities. Poverty forces many children to drop out of school, and while HIV/AIDS infection rates are low, unsafe sex practices and lack of knowledge prevail. Increases in teen pregnancies, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic and sexual violence and child trafficking are contributing to an overall decline in living standards for children and women. UNICEF and its partners are working with health ministries to improve birth registration practices and other child health initiates; deliver psychosocial support to children and families affected by natural disasters and political conflicts; and raise awareness among young people of HIV/AIDS and its prevention. UNICEF is also providing assistance throughout the region in the areas of immunization; child and maternal health; water and sanitation; and education. A first-grade student walks several kilometres to her home after school in the district of Altai, in Khovd Province. A mountain range rises in front of her. In March 2010 in western Mongolia, heavy snow, strong winds and extreme cold have created crisis conditions in over half the countrys provinces. Temperatures have fallen to minus-50 degrees Celsius, and snow is impeding access to food, fuel, sanitation and basic medical care. The crisis, known locally as a dzud, has killed at least nine children in one province, and has trapped many others in dormitories with failing heating systems and limited food supplies. Over 22,000 children in dormitories need emergency aid, and an additional 40,000 children may soon need assistance as well. The Government has declared a state of disaster in 12 of the countrys 21 provinces, with seven additional provinces expected to fall into disaster status. The dzud poses longer-term threats as well: Cold temperatures have killed over 2.7 million livestock, which may increase unemployment and poverty for the third of the population employed in agriculture. Animal carcasses also threaten to pollute soil and spread disease when the cold weather recedes in June. UNICEF is responding by providing food, fuel, blankets, hygiene kits, medical supplies and boots to over 60,000 children, including those in dormitories and isolated villages. UNICEF is also collaborating with other United Nations agencies to supply hospitals and provide mobile medical teams in isolated areas. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is offering a cash-for-work programme that pays herders to properly dispose of livestock carcasses. A boy carries supplies through waist-high floodwater in Pasig City in Manila, the capital. On 30 September 2009 in the Philippines, over half a million people are displaced by flooding caused by Tropical Storm Ketsana (also known as Ondoy), which struck on 26 September. The storm dumped over a months worth of rain on the island of Luzon in only 12 hours. The flooding has affected some 1.8 million people, and the death toll has climbed to 246; both numbers are expected to rise as aid workers reach additional disaster areas. The Government has declared a state of calamity in Metropolitan Manila the capital city with a population of over 15 million and 25 other provinces. Power outages and mud-choked roads are slowing rescue efforts, and shelters report shortages of food, medicine and other essential supplies. Stagnant floodwater poses disease and sanitation hazards, and two other tropical storms are approaching the country, complicating relief efforts. UNICEF has responded by distributing hygiene kits, essential medicines, water purification tablets, portable toilets, blankets and soap, and is collaborating with the relief efforts of other UN agencies. UNICEF is also working to address the long-term needs of affected children by providing psychosocial support and planning for the rehabilitation of damaged schools. Rozina, 15, treats brackish water with aluminium sulphate ('alum') wrapped in fishing net at her home in the village of Padma in Borguna District. Rozina lives with her parents and two younger siblings. During Cyclone Sidr, their home and village were submerged and the pond they used for drinking water was polluted. They must now drink water from the Baulestar River, which feeds directly into the saltwater Bay of Bengal. To make it safer, Rozina first uses a piece of cloth as a filter against mud and rocks. She then treats the water with aluminium sulphate ('alum'), which causes dirt and other particles to settle so that clear water can be decanted. Today she will also add a UNICEF-provided water purification tablet to kill bacteria and prevent water-bourne diseases. "Tablets may kill germs, but [the water] is still very salty and hard to drink," she said. [#3 IN SEQUENCE OF FIVE] In late November 2007 in Bangladesh, some 8.5 million people are recovering from Cyclone Sidr, a Category 4 storm that was the deadliest to hit the country in more than a decade. The cyclone struck the southern coast on the evening of 15 November and swept inland, hitting hardest in the districts of Patuakhali, Barguna, Bagerhat, Barisal and Pirojpur. An estimated 2.6 million people are in need of life-saving assistance - half are children. There have been more than 3,200 confirmed deaths and many people are still missing. More than 1 million homes and 3,000 educational institutions have been damaged or destroyed. Working with the Government and other partners, UNICEF has rushed emergency supplies to hundreds of thousands of families in affected areas and is working to support relief efforts in the areas of water, sanitation and hygiene, health and nutrition, education, child protection and the provision of non-food items. UNICEF has made an initial request of US $29.2 million to support the needs of children and women.

在基里巴斯,兒童向調查人員表示海浪侵蝕的情況日益嚴重;當蒙古的兒童面對着嚴酷的寒冬和水資源逐漸減少時,菲律賓的兒童正經歷暴雨連連的日子;瓦努阿圖的兒童則訴說,海水倒灌,令河水鹽分上升,食水資源下降。

是次研究的地區,每4名兒童當中,就有1名兒童因營養不足而阻礙正常發育,而水災、龍捲風和乾旱等自然災害將進一步打擊兒童的成長及發展。報告顯示,天災頻繁等對農業收成帶來長遠的負面影響,而農作物失收引致糧食價格上升,便間接增加兒童營養不良的發病率。

農業收成取決於氣溫、降雨、水的鹽度等受氣候影響的因素。在亞太地區,農業生產活動佔區內經濟收入逾50%,同時在區內大部份國家國民生產總值的重要支柱。

A girl carries a metal pail along the rocky terrain of the UNICEF-assisted Sarshahi camp for displaced persons near the city of Jalalabad in the eastern province of Nangarhar. Because the camp is located on dry rocky land, water must be brought in by truck or collected from a nearby canal and then treated with chlorine to make it safe for drinking. In 1994 in Afghanistan, civil conflict -- now in its 15th year -- has destroyed the country's economy and infrastructure. Already one of the world's poorest countries before the war, the situation has become dismal. Some one million people are dead and twice that number are injured or disabled. Over 500,000 women have been widowed. A third of the population has become refugees and some two million people have been internally displaced. UNICEF-assisted programmes focus on the immediate needs of the country's most vulnerable, including displaced populations and children in especially difficult circumstances, by providing basic health care, sanitation, safe water and vaccinations.印度、蒙古和太平洋地區的兒童分別透露,氣候變化影響了家中生計,父母因而要求子女輟學,外出收集食水和燃料來幫補生活。

Rao Singh女士坦言:「鼓勵兒童就提升對氣候變化的應對能力,及減低天災所造成的禍害出謀獻策,是成功對抗氣候變化的關鍵。兒童對生態環境的獨特見解,在幫助社區化解氣候變化帶來的危機擔當重要的角色。」

有證據顯示,教導兒童認識氣候變化,並鼓勵他們參與相關活動,能讓兒童學懂如何在氣候變化中保護自己。並可透過兒童將有關訊息在社區中傳遞開去,從而讓更多人懂到就氣候變化作好準備及自我防衛。

「氣候變化確確實實影響著兒童的生活,更關乎到他們的未來的福祉。今天能夠訂下正確的決策,將可成就他日穩健的基礎。」Rao Singh女士呼籲,「因此現在正是採取適當措施的時候,我們要積極回應氣候變化帶來的挑戰,並確保衝着兒童而來的危機得到大家關注。我深信,只要我們團結一致,將可更有效地應對氣候變化的挑戰,為兒童建設一個更好的世界。」