Schools Could be Closed for Months as Clean Up Begins Following Killer Typhoon in the Philippines

Schools Could be Closed for Months as Clean Up Begins Following Killer Typhoon in the Philippines

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Francine Uenuma 202.640.6810 (O)
Colleen Barton Sutton 703.203.7843 (M)

Destruction caused by Typhoon Bopha in Compostela Valley Save the Children photo
Destruction caused by Typhoon Bopha in Compostela Valley. Save the Children photo.

WESTPORT, Conn., (Dec. 6, 2012) — Schools could be closed for months, disrupting the education of tens of thousands of children whose lives have been affected by a killer typhoon in the southern Philippines, warns Save the Children.

The leading child rights agency says up to 188,000 children have been caught up in the aftermath of Typhoon Bopha, many of them school-aged children. Anna Lindenfors from Save the Children in the Philippines said, "The extent of the damage means that children will not be able to return home or to school anytime soon. This can be very unsettling for them as they will now have to stay in cramped conditions in evacuation centres without any private bathing areas, sleeping areas or safe play spaces."

Emergency response teams from the children's charity have been to the worst affected areas on the island of Mindanao only to find flattened villages covered in mud. The death toll is now reported to be 327, with 437 missing. The authorities say it will take at least two months to restore power in the affected provinces.

Save the Children says that children in the worst-affected areas including Compostela Valley, Surigao del Sur and Davao Oriental will require long-term assistance.

In response to the crisis Save the Children is mobilizing pre-made aid packages that include crockery, mosquito nets, toiletries and blankets. Distributions will start tomorrow to at least 500 of the worst-affected families.

"These are families living in areas that were unaffected by last year's Typhoon Washi and have never been through anything like this. We are hearing reports that few families heeded warnings from the authorities to evacuate, resulting in a higher than expected death toll."

"Children will require much more aid to recover from this disaster," said Anna Lindenfors. "We need to set up safe spaces for children to play and talk about their experiences. Students will also need a place to learn and school materials to study with when the semester starts. These are essential to create a sense of normality for the children whose lives have been turn upside down by the typhoon."

Save the Children has been working in the Philippines since 1981 and has decades of experience responding to emergencies in the Philippines. The aid agency mounted large-scale emergency responses to Typhoon Washi in 2011 and Typhoon Ketsana in 2009.

Prone to natural hazards such as landslides and floods, the Philippines experience an average of 20 tropical storms a year and is located in a major earthquake zone where there are also active volcanoes.

Save the Children is the leading independent organization for children in need, with programs in more than 120 countries, including the United States. We aim to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children, and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives by improving their health, education and economic opportunities. In times of acute crisis, we mobilize rapid assistance to help children recover from the effects of war, conflict and natural disasters. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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