Child Walking in Rain and Flood Waters

UNICEF Responds to Typhoon Haiyan Emergency

A full picture of the devastation has begun to emerge two days after Typhoon Haiyan (locally known as "Yolanda") ripped through the Philippines.

The Philippines' National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reports that at least 18 million people were in the worst-hit areas. It is estimated that 4 million children were affected by the storm. Flash floods, landslides and severe damage to roads and buildings have been reported. The city of Tacloban, home to 220,000 residents, is now in ruins

UNICEF’s first priority is providing life-saving interventions to children and their families, and it is deploying pre-positioned supplies to cover essential medicines, nutrition, safe water and hygiene. UNICEF estimates that more than 40 per cent of those affected by the storm are children under 18 years of age.

"As we get a better picture of the impact of this devastating crisis, it is clear that even more children are affected than first thought," said Tomoo Hozumi, UNICEF’s Philippines representative. "UNICEF is doing all it can to reach these children, as quickly as possible with critical supplies, to protect their health, safety and wellbeing in the difficult days ahead."

The Philippine Government is conducting a rapid assessment of the storm's damage. So far, assessing the extent of the damage has been challenging with telecommunications and power down in many of the worst-hit areas. 125,604 people in vulnerable areas were evacuated before the storm hit. In total, over 1 million people have been displaced by the typhoon.

UNICEF is working with its partners and NGOs on the ground to deploy emergency supplies as soon as access is available. Therapeutic food, health kits, water and hygiene kits to support up to 3,000 families have already been mobilized, with distribution prioritized for the Tacloban area.

UNICEF’s supply division in Copenhagen is airlifting approximately $1.3 million worth of additional health, medical and shelter equipment for another 10,000 families. It is also airlifting water purification and storage equipment and sanitation supplies directly from suppliers in Europe and Asia to Manila, the capital of the Philippines.

Typhoon Haiyan is the third major disaster to hit the Philippines in the last two months. It comes only a few weeks after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit Bohol Province in October and an armed conflict in Zamboanga displaced tens of thousands in September.

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© AP Photo/Bullit Marquez