Francine Uenuma 202.640.6810 (O), 202.450.9153 (M)
WESTPORT, Conn. (Nov. 19, 2013) — An estimated 4.6 million children have been affected by Typhoon Haiyan, with many witnessing the devastation first hand as their homes were swept away by the typhoon. Many children remain out of school, unattended to and potentially vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.
As millions of families still urgently need essentials such as food, water, and shelter, the psychological needs of the children who survived must also be given priority. Save the Children, in partnership with UNICEF and local communities, will open 11 child-friendly spaces on Leyte to address children's psychological and social needs and to help ensure their welfare. Additional centers are scheduled to open in the coming days on the island of Panay. Teams of local staff and volunteers will receive specialized training in responding to children's needs, and will provide informal education and activities within a safe and structured environment.
The first of the centers is scheduled to open on Leyte Wednesday. Field visits to remote areas also brought home the vulnerability of children in harder-to-reach areas.
"When we travelled south to Dulag today, I was struck by the hundreds of children who are still begging by the roadside" said David Bloomer, Save the Children's Child Protection Regional Advisor. "These villages are in ruins, with children sitting around in what remains with nothing to do and no structure to their day."
Local communities are highlighting the need to re-establish safe spaces for their children. "There is an urgent need to help children recover from this tragic experience. Communities have expressed how extremely anxious they are about their children's well-being," said Bloomer. "Children react to crises in very different ways, and the support they receive in the aftermath of a crisis is crucial to determining how resilient they can be in the longer-term. Evidence suggests that the faster children get back into school and back into normal and regular activities, the faster they will be able to recover."
The centers will allow parents time to focus on re-establishing their homes and livelihoods, while ensuring that the longer-term and more specialized needs of children who survived the typhoon are addressed.
Save the Children is the leading independent organization for children in need, with programs in 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.