Tens of thousands of children caught up in Philippines flooding: Save the Children

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Wendy Christian 203.221.3767 (O), 203.465.8010 (M)
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Taken in Zone 7, Acacia St. Carmen, Cagayan de Oro, where close to 50 houses were swept away in the early morning of 17 December 2011, rendering about 120 children homeless. Photo by: Eduardo Umali / Save the Children

WESTPORT, Conn. (December 18, 2011) — Save the Children estimates some 50,000 children may be caught up in flooding in the Philippines, after flash floods tore through the southern parts of the country.

A day after torrential rains triggered flash floods in the southern part of the country, some areas are still cut off by damage and debris, which is hampering relief efforts. Relief groups are concerned that families are trapped without enough food and clean water. Save the Children is particularly concerned that children may have been separated from their families during the floods, leaving them especially vulnerable.

“We fear that many children were split up from their parents as this disaster unfolded, and our priority is to reach them as soon as possible," said Anna Lindenfors, Save the Children’s country director in the Philippines. "We are especially worried about children trapped in areas that we cannot access due to the damage caused by the storm.”

According to the Philippines Red Cross, flooding killed more than 600 people and left more than 900 missing. Initial government assessment estimate the overall number affected by the flooding at more than 100,000.

Save the Children teams are on the ground to provide clean water and essential items to families caught up in the disaster. Without their families, children face a range of risks. They are often frightened, unable to find food and clean water, and are vulnerable to abuse.

“Children are likely to have borne the brunt of this disaster, because they are less likely to be able to cope with torrents of floodwater," said Lindenfors. "They would have been absolutely terrified, some would have panicked and in a situation like this, that is likely to put them in further danger.”

In areas where access is possible, the government has set up evacuation centers for those made homeless by the tropical storm. Save the Children is working with the authorities to ensure that families are getting the help they need.

Save the Children has worked in the Philippines for the past 30 years and quickly delivers humanitarian relief after the nation’s frequent typhoons and other disasters. A prime target of natural disasters, the Philippines experiences an average of 20 tropical storms a year and is located in a major earthquake zone housing a number of active volcanoes.

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