(AGI) Rome, March 14 - At least half of the population of theSouth Pacific island of Vanuatu, including at least 54,000children, is estimated to have been affected by cyclone Pam.The cyclone destroyed many houses, especially those built withlocal natural materials and thatched roofs, as they are morevulnerable to strong winds and flooding, reported UNICEF in acommunique' released on Saturday. "Schools, churches andcommunity halls are being used as emergency shelters. Many ofthese buildings are likely have suffered structural damage.Lifeline facilities like hospitals, electrical utilities, watersupply and telephone systems are most likely severely damaged,"the note read. Other Pacific Island countries have beenseverely impacted as well, including the Solomon Islands,Tuvalu and Kiribati. UNICEF is on the ground to provideimmediate relief in the affected countries. The most urgentneeds include the provision of water containers, purificationtablets, soap and temporary sanitation facilities. InVanuatu, health centres could have sustained severe damage andwill need rebuilding and restocking with medical and foodsupplies. Plans are under way to support the Government toperform an extensive measles immunization campaign. Schools are being used as evacuation centres. UNICEF intends tosupport the education of children by providing 'school in abox' kits. Child-friendly spaces will be set up in theevacuation centres in order to provide children withpsychosocial assistance. In order to meet the most urgent needsof the children and families affected by cyclone Pam, UNICEFneeds at least 2 million dollars, to be allocated to healthcare, schooling, food and security. (AGI).