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As Typhoon Haiyan (local name: Yolanda) continues rolling towards the east coast of the Philippines, Plan International is closely monitoring the situation in preparation for an aid response.
People in the villages are battening down the hatches as the typhoon is expected to make landfall over Samar or Leyte on Friday, by which time it could have intensified into a category-4 typhoon. Meteorologists say the typhoon will pack winds reaching 240kmh.
Haiyan could be even more devastating than Typhoon Bopha, which lashed the Philippines in 2012, killing at least 1,146 people and doing more than US$1 billion worth of damage.
All of Plan Philippines’ programme units, home to about 40,000 sponsored children, are likely to be affected by the storm.
"We are continuously monitoring the situation and our contacts in the area are updating us of all developments. In times like this, Plan is always ready to make a quick assessment that can guide us if there is a need to respond and if so, how best we could respond,” said Carin van der Hor, Plan’s country director in the Philippines.
“We have extensive experience in disaster response in the country, and our response is focused on education and child protection in emergencies. Our first response frequently also consists of providing life-saving needs, including water and sanitation, if needed. Members of our emergency Go team have been notified and our humanitarian country team will meet on Thursday to discuss a course of action,” she added.
“We have contacted all of our programme units to be prepared for the worst and to pre-position relief items like water-purifications kits and emergency shelter. We are also in continuous contact with our partners in Samar, Leyte, Masbate, and Occidental Mindoro,” she said.
On average 20 typhoons hit the Philippines every year, with 2 or 3 of them devastating. Haiyan is the 25th typhoon to enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) this year.
Carin van der Hor, added, "We know from more than 50 years of experience working in the Philippines that when disasters hit, they always hit the most vulnerable the hardest. Children are always badly affected by disasters like this; some will lose their lives, or lose parents, siblings and extended families. Everything that is familiar and safe is disrupted or destroyed, including homes, schooling and family livelihoods. These children will also have seen things that no child should have to see."