UNICEF worries over children’s situation in typhoon-battered Philippines

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 21 2020 12:46 AM | Updated as of Nov 24 2020 07:54 PM

Residents of Brgy. Sapang Bayan stay at an evacuation center at the F. Mendoza Memorial Elementary School in Poblacion, Calumpit, Bulacan on November 17, 2020, a few days after Typhoon Ulysses caused massive flooding in different parts of Luzon, displacing thousands. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA (UPDATED) — The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has expressed concern over the situation of children in the Philippines after typhoons Rolly and Ulysses early this month inundated areas in Luzon, including the capital region, leaving thousands of Filipinos displaced. 

UNICEF, in a statement, said that before Ulysses battered the country, the agency already launched the Super Typhoon Rolly appeal amounting to US$ 3.7 million or a total of P178.6 million worth of aid to help affected Filipinos. 

Filipino children are growing “more vulnerable” in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and the onslaught of strong typhoons, according to UNICEF Philippines representative Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov. 

“UNICEF and its partners are responding to an emergency within another emergency… We are concerned for the many children who are experiencing recurring threats to their survival, development, protection and participation,” Dendevnorov said. 

UNICEF said it is concerned that vulnerable children would “become even more disadvantaged” because of the situation. 

“Children who are already fearful of COVID-19 and strong winds from past typhoons would have to relive their experience with each typhoon that comes their way. Children who were already stunted can become severely malnourished from lack of food and contaminated water sources,” the agency said in a statement. 

Diseases and gender-based violence are some of the possible dangers that children staying in crowded evacuation centers are exposed to, according to the UN agency, while learners would have to stop going to school once again because of the disasters.

The aid collected by UNICEF, meanwhile, intends to provide access to water, sanitation, hygiene, nutrition, education, health and protection services, among others, to communities and partners. 

Wash, education, and protection supplies such as hygiene kits, learning kits, tents and “child-friendly” space kits have made their way to the vulnerable communities, it added.

But the resources risk of running out if no additional assistance would be secured.

“While UNICEF is currently responding to typhoon affected communities using prepositioned supplies, these resources run the risk of being depleted if no additional resources are secured given the magnitude of these consecutive emergencies, and the anticipated additional weather disturbances before the year ends,” it said. 

As of Nov. 24, Ulysses has killed at least 73 people and injured 76 others, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. 

Rains brought by Ulysses caused flooding across Luzon, affecting over a million families or more than 4.1 million individuals from various regions. Of this figure, close to 34,000 families are staying in 641 evacuation centers, while more 18,500 other families are being served outside evacuation centers.

Ulysses has also left more than P8.6 billion in damage to infrastructure and P4.3 billion in damage to agriculture, which prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to declare a state of calamity in the Luzon island.

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