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Philippines: thousands of children cut off from help

Written by Gonzalo Atxaerandio, Emergency Response Team Leader for Save the Children in the Philippines

It must have been terrifying for the children who experienced Typhoon Bopha on Tuesday morning. Barely a year after the devastating Typhoon Washi, yet another typhoon came crashing into Mindanao.

At least two hundred people have been killed, many of them children. Figures of the damages and casualties have been increasing little by little, and are expected to increase in the coming hours.

Hundreds more have been reported missing and we expect many children to be on that list. Children are smaller and lighter, and as a result, more likely to be swept away by flash floods and strong winds.

Immediate action

Save the Children’s team on the ground launched into action immediately, trying to assess the damage on the most vulnerable children and their families in the most affected areas of Davao Oriental and Agusan del Sur.

Our supplies have also been mobilised so that we can begin distributions as soon as the initial report is in.

But this assessment will not be easy. The debris and flooding have cut off thousands from the help they need as rescue workers and aid agencies try to negotiate their way in.

Children could be without clean water, hot food, blankets and shelter. The situation, however, remains unclear as it is hard to access the most-affected areas and communication signals are poor.

Critical time

We are especially concerned about the children who have been separated from their parents in the chaos. Others would have lost their homes, schools and playgrounds.

It is going to be a very distressing period for young children and they will almost certainly require psychosocial support to get through this time.

The next few days are critical. Children are always the most vulnerable during emergencies – and in the aftermath. Stagnant water and tainted supplies can cause disease. Overcrowded conditions with little privacy can cause violence and abuse.

About 135,000 children have been affected in this typhoon and we are now working around the clock to reach vulnerable children and adults before it is too late.

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