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UNICEF gears up to respond as Typhoon Hagupit heads to the Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY, LEYTE, Philippines, 5 December 2014 – Merely thirteen months after the coastal communities were ravaged by Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda, Super Typhoon Hagupit (locally named Ruby) is gaining strength to hit the Philippines within the next few days.

UNICEF Philippines has activated full preparedness mode to assist children and families as the Super Typhoon rumbles toward the northern part of Eastern Visayas. (NDRRMC 5:00 a.m. 5 December 2014).

UNICEF’s 54-strong office in Tacloban - established following Typhoon Haiyan - is working closely with local government and partners preparing should disaster strike again.

“UNICEF is working with national and local Government and partners to safeguard children and families, and ensure that they are prepared and supported,” said Ms. Lotta Sylwander, UNICEF Philippines Representative.  “We are closely monitoring the situation and teams are in place in Tacloban City ready to respond to this new emergency.”

“It is unfortunate that some of the communities recovering from last year’s massive disaster are faced again with yet another Super Typhoon. UNICEF will continue to be there by children and communities to assist them through this impending calamity,” she added. 

Pre-positioned essential supplies are ready to be deployed from local warehouses in Manila, Leyte and Cotabato and the UNICEF global warehouse in Copenhagen. These emergency supplies include water kits, hygiene kits, water purification units, school tents, student and teacher materials, child friendly space tents, medical supplies, nutritional therapeutic food items to combat malnutrition, oral rehydration saults, tarpaulins and generators enough for at least 10,000 families.

In times of disasters, children face the risk of disease outbreaks, malnutrition, violence and disrupted education. Since last year’s devastating storm hit the Philippines, UNICEF and partners have been working closely with local government departments to help strengthen their ability to respond to emergencies, and through existing partnerships with international and national NGOs, UNICEF stands ready to complement the Government’s preparedness activities and provide support in the areas of water, sanitation, hygiene, health, nutrition, education and protection of children”
 “As some of the communities recovering from last year’s massive disaster are faced again with yet another Super Typhoon, UNICEF will continue to stand alongside children and communities and support them through this impending calamity,” said Ms. Sylwander.

 Note to editors:

UNICEF’s emergency response preparations include:

Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) - Restoration of existing water sources will be top priority. Potential response activities include installation of water bladders to provide safe water to evacuation centers and isolated communities, installation of emergency latrines to ensure dignity especially for women and female adolescents. Hygiene promoters are trained and ready to provide Hygiene education information tailor-made to emergency situations.  UNICEF has WASH supplies prepositioned in three warehouse in Tacloban, Manila and Cotabato worth approximately $ 1 million including water kits, hygiene kits, water pumps, generators, water treatment, water storage and treatment facilities.  

Child Protection - The risk of separating children from their families during the early stages of emergencies is very high. Separated children form one of the most vulnerable groups as separation from both family and community protection greatly increases the child’s risk of exposure to violence, physical abuse, exploitation, illness and malnutrition, and psycho social distress. UNICEF has been working with the Government, communities and partners to strengthen child protection systems to enable them to quickly identify unaccompanied and separated children and assist vulnerable children.

Nutrition - In order to provide support to breastfeeding mothers and ensure continuous breastfeeding throughout the emergency and post emergency period, UNICEF supports National Nutrition Council to set up breastfeeding corners in all evacuation centres. These spaces provide a private place for women to breastfeed their babies and receive advice and support on breastfeeding and complementary feeding. Monitoring of malnutrition, even in the immediate aftermath, in small children is important to identify children at risk of becoming severely malnourished. 

Disaster Risk Reduction -  UNICEF has been working with local government units (LGUs) in the Visayas Regions to provide training and equipment to create maps based on GIS technology and developing child-centred disaster risk management programmes.  Civil society organisations, including academic institutions, have also been mobilised to provide technical support to LGUs and to increase risk awareness in communities.

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work please visit www.unicef.org

Please visit UNICEF Philippines website, Facebook and Twitter.

For further information, please contact:

Zafrin Chowdhury, Chief of Communication, UNICEF Philippines, Tel: +632 901 01 77, Mobile: +63 917 867 8366, zchowdhury@unicef.org
Marianna Zaichykova, Emergency Communication Specialist, UNICEF Tacloban, Mobile: +63 917 505 9130, mzaichykova@unicef.org
Kate Donovan, UNICEF Media, Tel: +1 212 326 7452, Mobile: +1 927 378 2128, kdonovan@unicef.org




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