I remember the first time I saw a UNICEF SUV. It was Antigua, Guatemala in 2002. Just having a car in Guatemala is a luxury, those that do have them; they are usually older model cars. Imagine my surprise when I saw two brand new, top of the line, SUVs come driving down the road. These trucks were loaded; nice rims, CB radios, CD players, air conditioning, tinted windows, they really had the full works. I spotted a similar truck in Ulaanbaatar the other night.
UNICEF is spearheading the Swine Flu “prevention” effort in Mongolia. A huge effort is underway to prevent this disease that do date has killed 14 Mongolians.
But, I wonder if the effort could be better directed? Almost every smokes in Mongolia; the percentage of smokers here is probably more than in Russia where it seems that everyone smokes. Finding a car in Mongolia with seat belts is a challenge. Using them draws strange looks from the taxi cab driver. Refusing a ride in a car without seat belts can result in arguments and comments that you are a “wimp.” I don’t know how many die in traffic accidents in Mongolia, but I recently met a store vendor whose parents were both killed in traffic accidents. Each day on the TV I see horrific fatal accidents. I wonder how many thousands of Mongolians die to cancer and traffic accidents as I see the never ending Swine Flu commercials on TV.
As I stood taking the pictures of the UNICEF vehicle, I saw another pedestrian hit by a car. You remember the 1980’s arcade game “Frogger?” Yeah, Ulaanbaatar traffic is just like that.
While the country is gripped in panic over the possibility of the flu, the accidents continue to mount. A few days later, I see another UN SUV. Sure enough, the UN worker was wearing his seatbelt… I suppose that smoking and traffic accidents don’t draw the same kind of international money that H1N1 draws…
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