Children affected by Typhoon Rai/Odette face uncertain New Year

As Filipino families gather this New Year’s Eve to welcome 2022, there are 846,000 children who need help after Typhoon Rai/Odette destroyed their homes. A more infectious strain of COVID-19 and continued heavy rainfall over typhoon-affected areas pose an additional danger and can further slow down aid efforts.

Working with the Philippine Government, our UNICEF assessment teams from Surigao del Norte, Siargao Island, Dinagat Island, Southern Leyte, Cebu and Bohol reported that children need safe drinking water, health, nutrition and psychosocial support, protection from violence and continuation of learning.

We saw children with diarrhoea in homes and hospitals, their worried parents barely recovering from the shock of losing their homes and livelihoods. Children’s schools were partially or completely destroyed and their learning modules have been inundated. Staying in crowded rooms in evacuation centres with adults exposes them to abuse and exploitation. Local government officials are overwhelmed and child workers such as teachers and social workers are themselves affected.

UNICEF sent life-saving supplies such as water purification tablets, hygiene kits, jerrycans, tents and water storage units, but this initial delivery is far from enough. We are working hard to raise US$11 million to reach 200,000 of the most affected children but have secured only $3.8 million to date. Without this funding, we will miss out on this critical period to respond to children’s needs. Some of the affected areas already had worrying rates of malnutrition even before the typhoon struck. We cannot leave these children behind.

As we greet the New Year, we at UNICEF are hopeful that our collective efforts will help children survive and recover. We continue to work closely with the Philippine Government, the UN country team, and our partners to support the Government-led emergency response. We are seeing the tremendous solidarity among organizations and individuals who are contributing to the response in their own way. The COVID-19 pandemic, compounded by disasters such as Typhoon Odette, is a children’s crisis that we need to end now. Let’s reimagine a better future for all our children as we welcome 2022.

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