The safety of children and new mothers must be a priority in the response to typhoon VongFong (local name Ambo) that is making landfall in the Philippines, Save the Children warned today. Parts of the country are bracing themselves for winds of up to 170 mph, floods, landslides and heavy rains.
Atty. Alberto Muyot, Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children in the Philippines said children, particularly those with disabilities, as well as pregnant and new mothers are the most vulnerable, and at risk of disease and injury during emergencies such as typhoons.
“We urge the authorities in the provinces of Bicol and Eastern Samar to prioritize children and their families in already vulnerable communities, who are likely to suffer most from the devastation caused by typhoon VongFong," said Atty. Muyot.
"Deprived families living in coastal areas or remote hilly towns are the most exposed to natural disasters as their homes are made of lightweight materials. If they lose everything, these families will struggle to bounce back. Many are already suffering from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the loss of income opportunities due to quarantine measures. The impact of VongFong could push them over the edge as the typhoon can ravage their houses and destroy their crops,” added Atty. Muyot.
Atty. Muyot also urged local authorities in Bicol and Samar to take COVID-19 measures in consideration, when preparing evacuation centers, which means ensuring physical distancing, the availability of hand washing facilities and other sanitation essentials like soaps, alcohols, and face masks.
The Philippine Republic Act 10821 or the Children's Emergency Relief and Protection Act directs national and local government agencies to implement and sustain comprehensive emergency programs to protect children from disasters and emergencies.
The law prioritizes the protection of children, pregnant and lactating mothers during disasters and emergency situations.
“We call on our local leaders in the provinces of Bicol and Eastern Samar to keep in mind the vulnerability of deprived children and their families who are the first to suffer from the devastation of natural calamities like typhoons,” said Muyot.
Save the Children Philippines advocated for the enactment of RA 10821 to ensure children's rights to proper healthcare, access to education and protection from violence are fulfilled at all times, especially during emergencies including typhoons.
Teams of Save the Children are ready to respond to the typhoon – the organization has over 10,000 household kits with basic necessities for families, tarpaulins to build shelters, and over 5,000 hygiene kits in stock so people can take COVID-19 preventative measures, and seven mobile health units are ready to deploy.