As Taal volcano continues to erupt just 100km from the capital Manila, Save the Children is deeply concerned for thousands of children who have been forced to leave their homes, are missing out on school and face hunger and disease in cramped and unsanitary evacuation centres. An estimated 21,000 children living in the 14km danger zone identified by the Philippines government have been evacuated from their homes.
Jerome Balinton, Humanitarian Manager for the Save the Children Philippines, said:
“Our humanitarian team have just visited an arena now doubling up as an evacuation centre and it was heart-breaking. More than 900 people are sleeping on the cold, hard surface without mats. Due to sudden evacuation, people were not able to bring blankets, hygiene essentials, mosquito nets, and supplies for babies such as diapers.
“Small children are suffering from respiratory illnesses such as coughs and colds. Given the close proximity to so many other people, these illnesses can spread fast. With over 200 volcanic earthquakes reported since Sunday, families have no idea when or even if they will be able to return to their homes. This uncertainty can be very unsettling for children.”
Alberto Muyot, Chief Executive Officer for Save the Children Philippines, said:
“Children require specific support to meet their emotional and psychological needs. Infants, toddlers, and children require special care and supplies during and after natural disasters. Unless this support is provided quickly, children are likely to suffer long-term developmental, physical and psychological setbacks. Authorities need to coordinate with parents and caregivers to prepare for children’s unique needs at times of disaster. Save the Children is on the ground in the affected area and working closely with the government to determine the immediate needs of children.”
Conflict and natural disasters threaten millions of children’s survival and well-being every year. Save the Children’s Emergency Fund allows them to respond wherever the need is greatest. It means they can be on the ground within hours of a disaster striking, so they can reach children with the essentials they need to survive.