At a glance: Philippines

UNICEF responds to Philippines communities devastated by Tropical Storm Washi

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Philippines/2011/Maitem
A community is devastated in Cagayan de Oro, Philippines, after Tropical Storm Washi swept across the southern part of the country.

MANILA, Philippines, 19 December 2011 – Over 600 people have been killed, and hundreds more are missing, after flash floods devastated northern and western parts of Mindanao, an island in the southern Philippines.

The disaster came on the heels of Tropical Storm Washi, which struck the country on 16 December and deposited more than a month’s worth of rainfall in just 12 hours, causing a cascade of destruction.

The resulting landslides and floods reduced houses to heaps of wood and crumpled aluminium. Other houses – and occupants – were washed out to sea. Mass graves have been prepared for the bodies, which are already decomposing in the tropical heat; many of them are still unidentified.

UNICEF is working to assist approximately 10,000 affected families, including the 8,100 families currently taking shelter in overcrowded evacuation centres. 
 
‘Need a great deal of support’

Well over a hundred thousand people are believed to be affected. Assessments, conducted with partner United Nations agencies and led by the government, are underway to determine the scope of needs in affected areas.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Philippines/2011/Maitem
Marisa Legkina holds her 4-month-old daughter, Marry, outside their destroyed home in Iligan, Philippines.

It is already clear that an immediate priority is the need for clean water and sanitation facilities. Water systems in the two worst-affected cities, Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, have been destroyed, leaving the vast majority of residents without clean water.

UNICEF is also focusing on the health and nutritional status of children, especially those under age five, and is working to ensure the protection of children in evacuation centres 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,” said Trevor Clark, chief of the UNICEF Mindanao office. “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.”

UNICEF assistance

UNICEF has dispatched supplies to affected areas, including: therapeutic food to treat malnutrition; kits to ensure drinking water is safe; kits containing soap, toothbrushes and personal hygiene supplies; tents and tarpaulins for temporary shelter; vitamin A to boost the immunity of mothers and infants; breastfeeding educational materials to reduce the risk of infant mortality from disease and unclean water; and recreation kits to help children play and resume a sense of normalcy.

At the request of the Government of the Philippines, the UN is preparing a joint flash appeal to support those affected. UNICEF is also readying additional humanitarian supplies, and further efforts will be announced as the situation is assessed.

This disaster comes only six months after an earlier flooding crisis in Mindanao. Then, monsoon rains inundated much of the island, displacing an estimated 800,000 people.


 

 

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