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Psycho-Support Urgent for Young Quake Survivors

Psychological support is of the utmost importance for young survivors of the May 12 earthquake that rocked southwest China, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) chief representative in the country said in Beijing on Thursday.

Dr. Yin Yin Nwe, UNICEF's chief representative in China, said the organization had provided relief efforts to children in quake-battered Sichuan Province almost immediately after the massive 8.0 earthquake struck.

"The most urgent need for children there is psychological support," said the Burmese, who previously headed up UNICEF's tsunami support in New York, at a press conference.

She said the support would last for at least six months.

UNICEF was the first organization of the United Nations to enter Sichuan following the quake, providing materials worth US$9.03 million and setting up "child-friendly centers" to offer psychological help.

Also on Thursday, Chan Meiling, UNICEF's ambassador for Japan, announced that organization had donated US$1 million for reconstruction in China's quake-hit areas. She added another US$2 million would be raised.

Chan said the child-friendly centers had proved very popular with Sichuan youngsters.

"We played games and sang with them. We gave each of them a bag and a set of stationary. They really liked the Chinese dictionary."

The death toll from the earthquake stood at 69,195 as of Thursday noon, the State Council Information Office said in a statement.

The number of injured was 374,176, while 18,389 were still missing after the quake jolted Sichuan and the neighboring provinces.

(Xinhua News Agency Junly 4, 2008)

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