UNICEF teams are on the ground helping children and families affected by the Super Typhoon Bopha, which hit the south-eastern coast of Mindanao in the Philippines.
Heavy rains and winds of 175 kph slammed into the island on 2 December, causing 1600 people to be reported missing or dead. Over 2.3 million children's lives have been disrupted.
Residents spoke of a torrent of water, mud and logs racing through their villages with very little warning. Most cannot recall a storm like it in living memory. In many of the areas affected, all the housing and crops were damaged, destroyed or washed away.
UNICEF is concerned about the looming silent threats of malnutrition and abuse and exploitation of vulnerable children. Malnutrition levels prior to the typhoon were already at worrying levels. A statement released today highlights child trafficking as a potential risk in the most affected areas.
Tomoo Hozumi, UNICEF Philippines Representative, said: "In this damaged environment, it is particularly important to pay attention to the vulnerability of children. We have seen unscrupulous adults take advantage of these situations in other parts of the world. Through clear information and awareness, we can ensure that we don’t let these children become double victims of their circumstances."
Clean water is also short supply because water systems have been either destroyed, damaged or contaminated, so we're providing water and hygiene kits to ensure families have clean, safe water and equipment for washing. This will help protect children from diarrhoea and respiratory diseases.
We've also supplied equipment for setting up temporary toilets, which are essential with so many homes destroyed.
Our teams on the ground continue to assess and respond to the needs of children and families, but we'll need funding to make sure the response continues.
The typhoon was set to hit the same areas affected by Tropical Storm Washi a year ago, when more than 1,500 people lost their lives. This year, government and community organisations organised early evacuations of families in the most vulnerable areas. The strong typhoon did pass directly over the area, but the cities report zero casualties. This is a positive example of how preparation and early warning saves lives.