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UNICEF prepares additional $1.3 million relief supplies and readies for Typhoon Pepeng / Parma

© UNICEF PHI/2009/Francia
UNICEF National Ambassador Gary Valenciano with daughter Kiana give cheer to displaced children inside an evacuation center in Barangay Bagong Silangan, Quezon City.

MANILA, 2 October 2009 — UNICEF is preparing $1 million  worth of additional supplies to assist children and families displaced by tropical storm Ondoy and keep them healthy.

"With large areas of stagnant water, overcrowded evacuation centers and the possibility of contaminated water, the conditions are in place for disease outbreaks particularly among children. We are distributing emergency health kits to DOH and NGO health personnel so they have the equipment and drugs to deal with any outbreak that might occur," said UNICEF country representative, Vanessa Tobin.

In addition, UNICEF has taken delivery of 1,000 water hygiene kits to ensure families can have safe water for drinking and cooking. These will be distributed through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in the coming days.

UNICEF, the Department of Health (DOH), World Health Organization (WHO), and NGOs also urged relief organizations and individuals not to accept or distribute donations of infant formula or other milk powders. With the unsanitary conditions in communities and evacuation centers there is a fear that diarrhea could be caused by unsafe water or dirty feeding bottles. Diarrhea is extremely dangerous in young infants. The agencies confirmed that all donations of milk should be unbranded and cleared for distribution by DOH.

Dr. Marinus Gotink, UNICEF’s chief of health, said, "Breastfeeding is the safest and best way to feed babies, and this is even more important in an emergency. We are urging any mothers who cannot breastfeed to seek support from the local health worker on advice for safe and nutritious feeding for their infant."

UNICEF is also concerned that children are safe and protected at this time, especially if adults and parents are busy cleaning up homes and neighbourhoods. They are working with the National Council for Social Development to organize registration of children in the evacuation centers, and to organize play and educational activities.

"Children can be nervous and distressed after having to leave their homes, often in a state of panic. By encouraging them back into learning and setting up play areas, we can make sure they have some elements of normalcy in their lives, which helps them recover from the experience," said Tobin.

The number of families affected by storm Ondoy (international codename Ketsana) which dumped a month’s worth of rain in 12 hours, has reached 629,000 or over 3 million individuals. Over one million of those will be children.

UNICEF is coordinating all operations with the National Disaster Coordinating Council to ensure supplies those most in need. The children’s agency is preparing family kits containing cooking pots, blankets, water buckets, sleeping mats and soap; hygiene kits containing soap, toothpaste, slippers and towels; emergency health kits with drugs and equipment and water purification supplies.

UNICEF is also prepositioning people and supplies to prepare for the coming typhoon Pepeng/Parma. The agency has staff on standby in North Luzon, and family kits ready to be distributed to those displaced. By current forecasts, Manila is also set to receive heavy rains, further endangering those families whose homes were underwater only a week ago.

To make a donation to UNICEF's emergency efforts for children and families displaced by tropical storm Ondoy, click here.  UNICEF is also accepting cash and cheque donations which can be deposited into its Metrobank account: UNICEF C/A 066-7-06631209-3.  For donation inquiries, call (632) 758-1000 and 758-1442.



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