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Special report: UNICEF’s on the ground support offers glimmer of hope for children traumatized by Typhoon Haiyan

Friday marks the two week date since Super Typhoon Haiyan bombarded the Philippines, causing devastation, destruction and utter despair among this island nation. In the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan, millions of Filipinos are displaced, 18,175 people were injured, 3,976 people are confirmed dead, 1,598 people are still missing and estimated damage continues to spike up to $674 million (Source: New York Times).

The storm, one of the most powerful ever recorded in the world, also destroyed homes, schools, hospitals, roads, communications and other basic infrastructure, and damaged power and water supply systems making relief services extremely complicated and difficult.

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While world coverage of Super Typhoon Haiyan continues to filtrate the newspaper mostly speaking of the damage, destruction and despair, there are a few more subtle stories here and there about the most vulnerable victims of this devastating storm: The children.

On 12 November, a woman cradling a baby stands amid debris and other destruction caused by Super Typhoon Haiyan, in Tacloban City – the area worst affected by the disaster – on the central island of Leyte. Water, sanitation and hygiene, food, medicine, shelter, debris clearance and communications are among the priority needs. Blocked roads have limited access and  the delivery of relief supplies. On 12 November 2013 in the Philippines, Government-led emergency relief and recovery operations continue in the wake of the destruction caused by Super Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda), which hit the central Philippines on 8 November. At least 2,500 people have been killed in the Category-5 storm; the death toll is expected to rise as more affected areas become accessible. Some 11.3 million people, including an estimated 4.7 million children, in nine regions across the country have been affected, and more than 673,000 people have been displaced. Most of them are sheltering in overcrowded evacuation centres. The storm, one of the most powerful ever recorded in the world, also destroyed homes, schools, hospitals, roads, communications and other basic infrastructure, and damaged power and water supply systems. As a result, access to the many areas remains limited, hampering humanitarian relief operations. In response to the emergency, UNICEF is rushing critical supplies to affected areas, including therapeutic food for children, health kits, and water and hygiene kits for up to 3,000 families. UNICEF is also airlifting US $1.3 million in additional relief supplies from its supply warehouse in Copenhagen for another 10,000 families, including those affected by the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that hit Bohol Province in mid-October. The shipments contain water purification tablets, soap, medical kits, tarpaulin sheets and micronutrient supplements. UNICEF is also supporting water and sanitation, education and child protection interventions for vulnerable children and families. UNICEF is requesting US $34.3 million as part of a US $301 million United Nations Flash Appeal for the Philippines, to provide essential humanitarian supplies and services through May 2014. Photo credit:

On 12 November, a woman cradling a baby stands amid debris and other destruction caused by Super Typhoon Haiyan, in Tacloban City – the area worst affected by the disaster –on the central island of Leyte. Water, sanitation and hygiene, food, medicine, shelter, debris clearance and communications are among the priority needs. Blocked roads have limited access and the delivery of relief supplies. Photo credit: Jeoffrey Maitem/UNICEF

Per the New York Times:

“Of the estimated 13 million people affected by the storm, 5 million are children. Despite the signs of resilience, social workers and parents say the children are newly vulnerable – a reality the Philippines will need to deal with as it stumbles through a flawed relief effort that has failed to provide basics such food and medicine fast enough”.

During times of natural disasters, nations’ responses are often criticized and tested at the core. There has been much criticism by the general public that the Filipino government has not acted fast enough to provide aid. Thankfully international aid organizations such as Save the Children and UNICEF have stepped in and have dramatically assisted with humanitarian aid and services for families and children alike.

“The needs are immense and immediate, so our response has to be equally far-reaching. We are working in the face of enormous logistical challenges and shortages of fuel and physical space to operate, but we are doing all we can for those who have lost everything.”

-UNICEF Philippines Representative Tomoo Hozumi

As a mother, it is hard to imagine surviving a storm and having no shelter, water, food or comfort to provide for your family. Imagine how a young child must feel after surviving such a frightening, unexplainable event. Terrified.

On 12 November, a woman cradling a baby stands amid debris and other destruction caused by Super Typhoon Haiyan, in Tacloban City – the area worst affected by the disaster – on the central island of Leyte. Water, sanitation and hygiene, food, medicine, shelter, debris clearance and communications are among the priority needs. Blocked roads have limited access and  the delivery of relief supplies. On 12 November 2013 in the Philippines, Government-led emergency relief and recovery operations continue in the wake of the destruction caused by Super Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda), which hit the central Philippines on 8 November. At least 2,500 people have been killed in the Category-5 storm; the death toll is expected to rise as more affected areas become accessible. Some 11.3 million people, including an estimated 4.7 million children, in nine regions across the country have been affected, and more than 673,000 people have been displaced. Most of them are sheltering in overcrowded evacuation centres. The storm, one of the most powerful ever recorded in the world, also destroyed homes, schools, hospitals, roads, communications and other basic infrastructure, and damaged power and water supply systems. As a result, access to the many areas remains limited, hampering humanitarian relief operations. In response to the emergency, UNICEF is rushing critical supplies to affected areas, including therapeutic food for children, health kits, and water and hygiene kits for up to 3,000 families. UNICEF is also airlifting US $1.3 million in additional relief supplies from its supply warehouse in Copenhagen for another 10,000 families, including those affected by the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that hit Bohol Province in mid-October. The shipments contain water purification tablets, soap, medical kits, tarpaulin sheets and micronutrient supplements. UNICEF is also supporting water and sanitation, education and child protection interventions for vulnerable children and families. UNICEF is requesting US $34.3 million as part of a US $301 million United Nations Flash Appeal for the Philippines, to provide essential humanitarian supplies and services through May 2014. Photo credit:

On 12 November, a woman cradling a baby stands amid debris and other destruction caused by Super Typhoon Haiyan, in Tacloban City – the area worst affected by the disaster – on the central island of Leyte. Water, sanitation and hygiene, food, medicine, shelter, debris clearance and communications are among the priority needs. Blocked roads have limited access and the delivery of relief supplies. Photo credit: © UNICEF/NYHQ2013-1027/Jeoffrey Maitem

Alongside Save the Children, UNICEF has also been working tirelessly on the ground to provide aid and relief services to those affected by the storm. Immediately following the storm, UNICEF rushed critical supplies (15 tons were airlifted in free cargo space donated by AirAsia) to affected areas including tents, therapeutic food for children, health kits, and water and hygiene kits for families. On the ground, the most critical initial task was to provide safe drinking water and sanitation since many of the water pipes and infrastructure had been severely damaged compromising the water supply.

Earlier this week, the water supply service was fully restored in Tacloban City providing some safe drinking water to almost 200,000 people. Now they are working at restoring the water supply in more remote areas impacted by the storm.

Alongside the material aid supplies, UNICEF has also been working on providing emotional support services to children. UNICEF states: “Keeping the youngest survivors of Typhoon Haiyan safe and protected is a key priority while their homes and communities are being rebuilt in the aftermath of the devastating storm”. To help protect and support children impacted by the storm, UNICEF has initiated the following services:

  • UNICEF is mobilizing education support and supplies to the most affected areas. These include tents, Early Childhood Development (ECD kits), student school packs and teachers’ packs as well as library kits for delivery to the most affected areas.
  • UNICEF and the Tacloban City Department of Social Welfare and Development will open the first child-friendly space on Wednesday in Tacloban City, in collaboration with Save the Children. The space is one of dozens planned for the region.
  • UNICEF is providing tents, recreation kits and specialized supplies for early childhood development, with the local government supplying day-care workers, social workers and youth volunteers. Children ages 3-15 will be able to participate in structured activities, including play, sports, informal learning and discussion groups, in order to help promote their recovery and return a sense of normalcy.

Almost two weeks after Super Typhoon Haiyan hit, Filipinos are trying to pick up the pieces of their lives and begin rebuilding. It will most likely take a long time to resume to normalcy and aid is still urgently needed to help keep people alive and rebuild communities.

UNICEF is requesting US $34.3 million as part of a US $301 million United Nations Flash Appeal for the Philippines, to provide essential humanitarian supplies and services through May 2014

Filipino children desperately need shelter, clean water, medicine and nutrition. Although 60 metric tons of emergency supplies just arrived, it isn’t enough. UNICEF’s resources in the Philippines are exhausted. More help is desperately needed to save children’s lives.

Every moment matters for these children. Please, support UNICEF’s emergency response in the Philippines.

To help, please visit UNICEF.

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About UNICEF

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in more than 190 countries and territories to save and improve children’s lives, providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF’s work through fundraising, advocacy, and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when zero children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood.

15 comments

  1. Every time I see or read anything about the devastation in the Philippines I can’t help but wonder how in the world the people and the place are going to recover.

  2. Thanks for putting the attention to the most vulnerable of all hit by this devastating disaster. It’s impossible to understand how it is to be a surviver in this catastrophe, let alone with kids or as kids. I can only pledge along with you to support Unicef or any other help organization.

    • Yes in times like these, I feel I have to support direct aid. I wish I could give aid to every organization I write about ! I did help with the Typhoon as it is such an immediate, life or death need.

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