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UNICEF conducts training on dealing with children after disasters

UNICEF has partnered with the Government in an initiative that is focused on building resilience and facilitating recovery for children in emergencies. UNICEF is hosting a one week workshop with representatives of the Ministry of Labor, Local Government and Rural Development and the National Emergency Management Organization. Denise Robateau, early childhood development and education officer at UNICEF says as part of its disaster preparedness efforts, UNICEF is supporting the Government in a program titled “Return to Happiness”.

Denise Robateau – Early Childhood Development and Education Officer
“Under our commitments to children it’s called our core commitments to children. In Humanitarian Action the focus on disaster risk preparedness and emergency response should be on children as well they are the most vulnerable so children also experience trauma, they experience stress, at time they are misplaced and displaced from families as well and so this program called ‘Return to Happiness’ looks at the psycho social well being of the child. The trainers throughout this week are learning about working with children during times of emergencies to support the child’s wellbeing to help the child process the trauma to process what happened, to process how they can improve and recover and how they can have a positive outlook even after a time of distress.”

UNICEF is working with the government agencies that are committed to, after an emergency, go out to identify vulnerable children and engage them in the program. Robateau says that as part of the framework and cooperation with government, UNICEF is strengthening the disaster risk reduction efforts and focusing on better preparedness with a better insight of how best to support children in communities. She adds that Belize already has the necessary framework in place.

Denise Robateau – Early Childhood Development and Education Officer
“I believe that the necessary frameworks are in place, there is a well organized mechanism under the NEMO. I believe however that more training is necessary and so there is going to be a rollout of this just 18-20 trainers are not going to be able to meet the needs of Belize and so we are going to look at even during times of preparedness and all year round we are going to look at how more of our partners can be engaged and trained; school counselors, social workers, volunteers and all the other supporting agencies that do work with the government and in emergency that is the need, capacity building.”
The workshop concludes on Friday and on the last day, the work will involve government, civil society and UN partners focusing on children and adolescents.