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UNHCR provides 11,000 tents for China's quake victims

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UNHCR provides 11,000 tents for China's quake victims

23 May 2008 Also available in:

A young mother holds her child in a camp for people whose homes were destroyed in the Sichuan earthquake. © UNHCR/N.Behring

GENEVA, May 21 (UNHCR) – The UN refugee agency said Wednesday it is providing 11,000 tents to ensure shelter for some of the 5 million people left homeless after last week's earthquake in southern China's Sichuan province.

"We have tents in China and they are immediately available to help those who desperately need a roof over their heads," High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said in Geneva. "This urgently needed aid is an expression of our solidarity with those suffering as a result of this terrible disaster."

The official death toll from the May 12 quake is now more than 41,000 and another 32,000 people are still missing. Officials are working hard to get tents and supplies to the estimated 5 million left homeless.

The UNHCR tents, which are manufactured in China, will be transported to the quake zone as soon as possible. They will be able to provide shelter for 55,000 people. The final details of delivery and destination are being worked out with the Chinese authorities.

UNHCR's donation was in response to a request on Tuesday from the Chinese government to help their relief effort by providing tents.

UNHCR will be appealing to donors to provide sturdy tents for the victims.

A view of Beichuan Town, which was severely damaged by a powerful 7.9 earthquake. The Chinese government raised the death toll to 21,500 but has said fatalities could rise above 50,000. Tens of thousands could still be buried in collapsed buildings in Sichuan province, where the quake was centered. © UNHCR / N.Behring


People displaced by the earthquake sheltering at a camp in the sports stadium in Mianyang, China. © UNHCR / N.Behring



The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was established on 14 December 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly. The agency is mandated to lead and coordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee issues. It strives to ensure that everyone has the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another state, with the option to voluntarily return home when conditions are conducive for return, integrate locally or resettle to a third country. UNHCR has twice won the Nobel Peace Prize, in 1954 for its ground-breaking work in helping the refugees of Europe, and in 1981 for its worldwide assistance to refugees.