NEW YORK (December 19, 2011) – UNICEF is preparing to respond to the needs of approximately 43,000 children affected by the devastating floods brought on by Tropical Storm Washi in northern and western Mindanao, southern Philippines.
The tropical storm swept through the southern island during the night of December 16, dropping the equivalent of one month's rainfall in just one day. The resulting flash floods, which rose very quickly during the night, killed at least 330 people, with 270 still missing.
UNICEF is now turning its focus to the estimated 43,000 children affected by the floods, with 14,000 currently in evacuation centers.
Assessments with other UN and government agencies are currently underway and will establish the major needs of the displaced and affected families. Of particular concern to UNICEF are water and sanitation conditions, the health and nutritional status of children, especially those below five years of age, and the protection of children in evacuation centers and affected communities.
“We are shocked and saddened at the major loss of life, but our attention now has to turn to the needs of the many children left without homes and family members. They will need a great deal of support in the coming days and weeks, to ensure they are healthy, protected and able to recover from this devastating experience,” said Trevor Clark, Chief of UNICEF Mindanao Officer.
UNICEF has prepared supplies for dispatch to the affected areas including: water kits, to ensure safe, clean water; hygiene kits containing soap, toothbrushes and personal hygiene items; tents and tarpaulins for temporary shelter; vitamin A for mothers and infants; breastfeeding education materials to reduce the risk of infant mortality; and recreation kits so children can play and begin to have a sense of normalcy.
UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian aid organization in the world. Working in more than 150 countries, UNICEF provides children with health and immunizations, clean water, nutrition, education, emergency and disaster relief, and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy, and education in the United States.
UNICEF is at the forefront of efforts to reduce child mortality worldwide. There has been substantial progress: the annual number of under-five deaths dropped from more than 12 million in 1990 to 7.6 million in 2010. But still, 21,000 children die each day from preventable causes. Our mission is to do whatever it takes to make that number zero by giving children the essentials for a safe and healthy childhood.