The agency also launched an appeal today for $4.2 m illion to assist families affected by Tropical Storm Washi that unleashed devastating flash floods on the southern island of Mindanao. The appeal will support UNICEF’s response in the areas of water and sanitation, health and nutrition, education and child protection.
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 957 people, with at least 49 still missing.
UNICEF is now turning its focus to the estimated 200,000 children now affected by the floods, with 20,000 currently in evacuation centers.
"A lack of clean water and sanitation facilities is of great concern at the present time, as we know children are highly vulnerable to diarrheal disease and dehydration. UNICEF is on the ground to support the government’s efforts, and is working around the clock to provide for the many children and families affected. We are also carefully monitoring the safety of children in the very overcrowded evacuation centers," said Anselme Motcho, Acting Head of Office, UNICEF Philippines.
Assessments with other UN and government agencies have revealed urgent needs in the areas of water and sanitation. The water systems of the two main affected areas, Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities, have been completely destroyed, leaving most residents with no safe, reliable source of water. As a result, UNICEF has immediately dispatched water kits, hygiene kits, water bladders, temporary pit latrines and mobile water units to the affected area. Two hundred portable toilets are also being prepared for delivery to address the dire need for sanitation facilities.
Additional needs revealed by the rapid assessment are temporary shelter, non-food items such as blankets and mats for sleeping, and child registration and counseling services.
"UNICEF and its partners will stay as long as needed to get these families and communities back on their feet. While our current focus is immediate needs, we will soon be turning our attention to how communities can be better prepared and warned to reduce the risk of disasters, and prevent such a massive loss of life," said Motcho.
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.