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UNICEF responds to families affected by Typhoon Pablo

© ©UNICEF Philippines/2012/JMaitem
A mother holds her daughter as they evacuate from a flood-hit village in the township of Pantukan, Compostela Province, Mindanao. More than 400 people have been killed and scores of others remain missing after Typhoon Pablo pounded the region.

MANILA, 7 December 2012 -  UNICEF is today providing assistance to the families affected by Super Typhoon Bopha (local name Pablo) with a focus on ensuring clean water supply, providing temporary sanitation and non-food items for displaced families.

The strong typhoon slammed into the south eastern coast of Mindanao during the morning of 2nd December with a wind force of more than 175 kph and very heavy, intense rainfall.  The areas that bore the initial force of the storm are those with the greatest damage and loss of life. In these three provinces (Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Sur and Davao Oriental), the vast majority of the confirmed 418 deaths occurred. This number is still likely to rise with another 383 still missing.

In these rural, mountainous areas, residents spoke of a torrent of water, mud and logs racing through their villages with very little warning. Most cannot recall a storm like it in living memory. The UN joint assessment teams reported 100% destruction in many of these areas, meaning all the housing and crops were damaged, destroyed or washed away.

UNICEF is particularly concerned about the provision of clean water in these areas, as initial information suggests water systems have been either destroyed, damaged or contaminated. The agency is providing an initial supply of 2,000 water kits, which include both water containers and also water purification solution to ensure clean, safe water for families. The same quantity of hygiene kits, provide families with soap, toothbrush/paste, water containers, sanitary napkins and other supplies to keep families healthy, particularly from diarrheal  and upper-respiratory diseases which are dangerous in young children. The agency is also supplying equipment for setting up temporary latrines which is becoming a high priority need, with so many homes destroyed.

©UNICEF Philippines/2012/JMaitem
Children displaced by Typhoon Bopha are seen inside evacuation center in the town proper of Tarragona, Davao Oriental province, Mindanao on December 4, 2012. 

UNICEF has teams in the areas most affected and will continue to assess and respond to the needs of children and families. The agency is appealing for funds to ensure the effective response continues.

Whilst much of the focus is now on the areas suffering most damage and loss of life, there is a positive side to the current emergency. The path of the typhoon was set to hit the same two urban areas severely affected by Tropical Storm Washi (Sendong) one year ago, when more than 1,500 residents lost their lives. On receiving this information the local government and community organisations were proactive in organising early evacuations of families in the most vulnerable areas.  Recalling the terrifying experiences of one year ago, the residents moved quickly and promptly, into the prepared evacuation centred across the cities. The strong typhoon did pass directly over the area, and the cities report zero casualties.  In contrast with their fellow citizens on the east coast, who were less prepared and less aware, this is a positive example of how preparation and early warning saves lives.

You can help children and their families affected by Typhoon Pablo by making an online donation to UNICEF now.




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