NEW YORK (February 14, 2014) –David Beckham has made an emotional journey to the Philippines to meet children nearly 100 days after Typhoon Haiyan made landfall. The UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador helped launch UNICEF's emergency appeal when the typhoon hit in November 2013 and today visited some of the worst affected areas of Tacloban, on Leyte Island.
During the last two days, Beckham saw UNICEF’s emergency work for children, including a child-friendly space at one of Tacloban’s major evacuation points and a health center where children affected by the disaster receive vaccinations and medical care. He also met children and families whose homes were completely wiped out by the typhoon.
Thousands died in the disaster, and more than 1.7 million children were left homeless. Children affected by Typhoon Haiyan were at risk of getting sick, missing out on schooling and being exploited.
“As a father, it was deeply moving to meet children as young as two who were left with nothing but the clothes they were wearing when sea and storm water swept through their villages during the typhoon,” said the former soccer star, who has been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 2005. “Some children I spoke to had lost parents or brothers and sisters in incredibly frightening circumstances. It was devastating to hear about.”
Beckham visited Santo Nino School in Tanauan, where he helped distribute exercise books to children and played a game of soccer amongst the ruins of the original school. Thanks to UNICEF and its partners, some 420,000 children from the worst hit areas are now in makeshift and tent schools, using learning materials from school-in-a-box, early childhood and recreational kits.
UNICEF is working with the Philippines government, local partners and communities to help them be even better prepared for future crises.
“Children who were caught up in Haiyan are still traumatized by their experience and need ongoing assistance," said Beckham. "UNICEF delivered life-saving supplies when the typhoon hit and they will now stay as long as they are needed and won't let children down.”
“Here in the Philippines I have seen how public donations can have an incredible effect on children's lives in an emergency,” he added. “Right now, millions of children in other parts of the world are in urgent need—whether it's as a result of the Syria crisis or the conflict in South Sudan. Even though some of these crises don’t make the headlines, we should not forget these children in desperate circumstances and I urge the public to do all they can, as they have done incredibly in the past, to help organizations like UNICEF go the extra mile for these kids every day.”
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The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in 190 countries and territories to save and improve children’s lives, providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF’s work through fundraising, advocacy, and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when zero children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.
For additional information, please contact:
Susannah Masur, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.880.9146, [email protected]