As flood-waters rise, children desperately need help
Just got into the office this morning and reading up on the latest news hitting Thailand, where some of the worst flooding for half a century is hitting the country, putting hundreds of thousands of children at risk.
Our biggest concern today is the rapidly changing situation in the north of Bangkok as the government rushes to stop flood-waters swamping the city.
While they’ve been doing a great job to respond to immediate needs of many, we’re increasingly concerned that capacity is stretched to the limit, and without assistance, many children and their families will not be reached.
Save the Children is on the ground responding, working with government and civil society to meet urgent needs of children and their families hardest hit by the floods.
We’ve been distributing food by boat in some areas where the water levels are just too high for regular road use.
Meanwhile our protection teams are working to keep children from being separated from their families by raising awareness of simple steps to take like holding hands when on the move; keeping together in a group; and making sure children have their parents’ contact information on hand at all times in the event they get lost or separated.
Chance to be kids again
We’re also working to keep children safe and help relieve some of the stress and anxiety they’ve faced in the past weeks by organizing safe spaces specifically for children at the evacuation centres, where they can play together, unwind, and just get a chance to be kids again.
Games played in child friendly spaces also help children become more aware of warning signs of potential risks to them and actions they can take to stay safe.
One of the things that we’re worried about this morning is that reports are coming in of people being evacuated from one of the main centres in Pathum Tani just north of Bangkok, as water levels are rising even higher and areas where families have gone to seek shelter might not be safe anymore.
This is horrible news for children as it turns their world even more upside down, exacerbating uncertainty and stress.
One boy I spoke to yesterday, Yassin, had already been to two different centers in one week, if he ends up having to leave the center he was at when I saw him yesterday, this will mean having been displaced three times over in just over one week – after already having to abandon his home, to be separated from friends, and even losing one close friend who sadly lost his life in the floods.
This boy Yassin is already having nightmares – children like him desperately need support, need someone to talk to and a sense of normality, and this is something we’re working to provide.
The main challenge we face today is the lack of funds for the floods response. Government capacity is stretched as flood-waters continue to rise, now ever closer to Bangkok, and children desperately need help. We need more funds to help these kids and right now we’re struggling to get the resources we need.
This post was written by Annie Bodmer-Roy in Bangkok, Thailand, as part of Save the Children’s emergency response to the widespread flooding hitting the country.