Save the Children is deeply worried for the safety and welfare of more than a million children in Davao del Sur, Southern Philippines following Sunday’s devastating earthquake, the fifth to hit the region since October.
The latest 6.9 magnitude earthquake that jolted the towns of Davao del Sur on December 15 has again compromised vital infrastructures including roads, schools, and hospitals, already damaged by previous earthquakes that hit Mindanao in October and November.
An estimated 4.4 million people or 830,000 households live in towns that sustained strong temblors on Sunday, according to the Pacific Disaster Center, of whom, 1.37 million are children aged 14 years old and below.
Atty. Alberto Muyot, Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children Philippines said a team has been deployed in Davao del Sur to assess the situation of children and their families and determine the extent of damage.
“We are coordinating with the local government on the ground to assess the situation of children and their families so we can respond to their urgent needs,” said Muyot.
The municipalities of Matanao and Magsaysay, Davao del Sur suffered destructive shaking or intensity 7, while strong shaking or intensity 6 were felt in Kidapawan City, General Santos City, Bansalan, Davao del Sur; Alabel and Malapatan in Sarangani, and Koronadal.
Jerome Balinton, Humanitarian Manager of Save the Children Philippines said destructive shaking in Davao del Sur hit the same towns that sustained massive damage during the series of strong earthquakes last November.
He added that municipalities that were hit by very strong shaking through intensity 6 were the same towns jolted by the series of earthquakes in October and November.
“We are concerned that the recent earthquake will prolong the displacement of families,” said Balinton. “The impact of the previous earthquakes and the 6.9 magnitude earthquake last Sunday will add burden to the affected families and local communities. It will aggravate the current situation and can result to other risks to children.”
Children face the harsh impact of natural disasters due to breakdown of basic services to health, clean water, hygiene and sanitation, while learners miss out on school and are in need of protection from all forms of abuse.
Save the Children Philippines is currently responding to children and their families affected by the series of earthquakes in Mindanao. It has also dispatched a team to Sorsogon and Northern Samar to provide emergency kits to hundreds of families who were left homeless by typhoon Kammuri (typhoon Tisoy) in early December.