“As the aid response to the Philippines disaster intensifies the prevention of violence against children must be at the front of everyone’s minds,” said Helen Keogh, CEO of child-focused aid agency World Vision Ireland.
“We know from experience working in emergencies for more than 60 years, that sadly, in emergencies children are at their most vulnerable. And yet, protecting them is the most consistently under-funded aspect of emergency responses, receiving on average less than a third of what is needed.”
The high death toll following typhoon Haiyan means the risks faced by separated and missing children is another major concern, as is the potential for child trafficking and child abuse. “As we have been reminded so poignantly this week and over the past few months, disasters occur far too often in the world today. The risk of violence is further worsened by lack of shelter, cramped quarters and lack of privacy. Often children are too afraid to report the violence or do not know how to do so.”
“It is important to ensure that systems are in place to help separated and unaccompanied children and protect them from harm. It is also critical to provide appropriate support for children who are suffering severe distress as they try to survive, and make sense of what happened to them and their loved ones.”
World Vision is setting up safe spaces for children and women in evacuation centres; however the aid agency believes that other actors, including local Government, UN and NGOs need to step in immediately to address the magnitude of the problem.
World Vision has been working in the Philippines for more than 55 years. With hundreds of staff on the ground already working in the Philippines, an emergency rapid response team was also deployed to help. World Vision sent initial assessment teams out to Samar and Leyte, Bohol and Cebu Region, as well as Panay and has begun much needed distribution of food and hygiene items to families there.
To donate to World Vision Ireland text APPEAL to 51500 or visit www.worldvision.ie
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