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(Manila, Philippines) – SIX months after the largest storm to ever make landfall hit the Philippines, child protection and basic development needs remain urgent priorities for millions of children and families, says children’s charity Plan International.
Plan - one of the leading agencies providing relief in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan - is emphasising that the crucial work to rebuild communities and ensuring child protection continues, particularly as the 2014 Pacific cyclone season gets underway.
According to Carin van der Hor, Plan International’s Country Director in the Philippines:
“Thanks to the support of our sponsors and the international community, we have come a long way in a short time to protect children, their families, and help rebuild from the destruction of Typhoon Haiyan. However, children remain particularly vulnerable and we have a lot more work to do.”
According to the United Nations, more than three million people have already received emergency shelter materials such as tents and tarpaulins, and almost 200,000 households more provided with construction materials and tools to help them rebuild their homes. However, over 25,000 people are still living in temporary shelters, evacuation centres, and tent cities, 5,000 of which belong to the most vulnerable and still require food assistance, water, and sanitation, in addition to educational facilities and psychological and social support.
Children are particularly vulnerable and require additional protections from disease, malnutrition and exploitation. More than 40,000 Plan-sponsored children and their families live in the affected areas.
“If a major storm were to hit the affected areas now, we could be looking at a potentially much worse situation,” says van der Hor. “The international community’s robust response and the resilience of the people of the Philippines has demonstrated how effective a coordinated response can be and how important preparedness is; in the face of another storm season, we all need to be expect the unexpected.”
The El Niño phenomenon is expected to influence weather systems in 2014, and storms in the Pacific could once again be frequent and violent. In addition to the damage wrought by severe tropical storms, the spread of infectious diseases such as dengue and measles remain a major concern.
Plan International has confirmed that there remains a funding gap of $24 million (USD) to cover relief, recovery and rehabilitation for at least 700,000 people in the Central Philippines and is appealing to the international community for assistance.
“Preparedness works,” emphasises Van der Hor. “If Plan is able to continue rebuilding communities in the affected areas and supporting child development, we can meet the challenges that lay ahead in 2014.”