Nov 192013
A representative from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Tuesday warned that children who were victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda are at risk from sexual violence and trafficking.

“Children also face the risk of separation to their parents or care-givers. This is a huge concern for us. Not only in the immediate aftermath of the crisis but parents are on the move looking for food for survival for their families and leaving children behind. And this is where children are at risk from [sexual violence and] trafficking,” Sarah Norton Staal, UNICEF-Philippines chief of child protection, said Tuesday.

“In other natural disasters, we have seen about a 10 percent rise in trafficking,” Staal explained. “So we are very concerned.”

According to the United Nations, about 4.6 million children were affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda. Out of this number, about 1.6 million children were internally displaced.

To address this, Staal said that UNICEF was prioritizing the building of temporary shelters, which will also have a play area for children.

“It is important for them to feel some normalcy especially after undergoing some psycho-social trauma. They have seen the destruction of their homes, communities,” she noted.

Also, parents and guardians should be aware of “predators” and should immediately report any suspicious activities against children.

Health situation

After dealing with trauma-related injuries, medical workers are now facing other serious ailments among the typhoon victims, said Dr. Julie Lyn Hall, World Health Organization country representative.

“The first phase after such a disaster, you see a lot of trauma so a lot of fractures, cuts and other injuries cause by things falling on top of people or drowning,” explained Hall.

“So, 70 percent of cases we see for the first week to ten days, were trauma-related… Now, we are seeing in-patients with infected wounds, and an increase in the number of patients presented with heart conditions, uncontrolled diabetes and with other conditions that result from a lack of access to medicines in the past two weeks,” she noted.

Hall added that water-borne diseases such as diarrhea and leptospirosis are also becoming an imminent threat because most people had no access to clean water.

To date, there are 43 foreign medical teams and 44 local medical teams deployed across the affected areas.

Yolanda has killed more near 4,000 people, and injured more than 18,000, with 1,602 listed as missing, the latest tally from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said. — DVM, GMA News

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