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19 December 2011

At least 50,000 children caught up in Philippines flooding


Cherryl Vergeire/AFP/Getty Images - A soldier helps a woman holding the body of her child killed during Tropical Storm Washi at a village in Iligan City, on the southern island of Mindanao on Dec. 17, 2011.

At least 50,000 children have been caught up in flooding in the Philippines, Save the Children estimates, after hundreds of people were swept to their deaths by an enormous cyclone.

A day after torrential rains triggered some of the worst flooding ever seen in the country, some areas are still cut off by damage and debris, hampering relief efforts and prompting fears for families trapped without enough food and clean water.

The children’s charity is particularly concerned that children may have been separated from their families during the floods, leaving them especially vulnerable.

Anna Lindenfors, Save the Children’s country director in the Philippines said: “We fear that many children were split up from their parents as this disaster unfolded, and our priority is to reach them as soon as possible. We are especially worried about children trapped in areas that we cannot access due to the damage caused by the storm.”

Save the Children teams are on the ground to provide clean water and essential items to families caught up in the disaster. Without their families, children face a range of risks. They are often extremely frightened, unable to find food and clean water, and are vulnerable to abuse.

Hundreds of people are still missing after the storm tore through coastal villages in Mindanao, and there are reports that the majority of the bodies recovered so far have been children.

Anna Lindenfors continued: “Children are likely to have born the brunt of this disaster, because they are less likely to be able to cope with torrents of floodwater. They would have been absolutely terrified, some would have panicked and in a situation like this, that is likely to put them in further danger.”

In areas where access is possible, the government has set up evacuation centres for those made homeless by the tropical storm. Save the Children is working with the authorities to ensure that families are getting the help they need.

Save the Children is launching an emergency response to help victims of the flooding. Our experts are on the ground to distribute drinking water and essential items to families affected by the disaster.

To donate to Save the Children’s Emergency Fund please go to http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/childrens-emergency-fund or Call us on 0800 8148 148 and donate over the phone

Notes to Editors:
Official estimates suggest over 100,000 people have now been affected by the flooding. Based on available population data* for the affected area, Save the Children estimates more than 50 per cent will be children.
* From Philippines National Demographic & Health Survey 2008, National Statistics Office

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- ReliefWeb