Typhoon Hagupit: UNICEF provides vital assistance in Philippines

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United Nations, Dec 9: The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said on Monday that it is providing supplies and services to women and children in the Philippines, hit by Typhoon Hagupit.

UNICEF Philippines representative Lotta Sylwander said that tens of thousands of children and their mothers remained in "urgent need of emergency aid", while cautioning that the storm continued to pose "a serious threat" in spite of its downgraded status, according to a Xinhua report.

UNICEF

UNICEF's Tacloban office, established after last year's Typhoon Haiyan, activated its emergency response plan last week.

Its staff members were reportedly on standby to be deployed to the affected areas for undertaking expert assessments, and work with the government to assist the evacuees.

The agency added that it had strategically pre-positioned supplies in warehouses in Tacloban, Manila and Cotabato, including water kits, hygiene kits, water pumps, generators, water storage and treatment facilities as well as nutritional and therapeutic food items to combat malnutrition, oral rehydration salts and tarpaulins for at least 12,000 families.

Typhoon Hagupit made landfall over the weekend, battering the Philippines with powerful winds and rain, bringing back fears of a repeat of the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan last year.

The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) had revealed that Typhoon Hagupit's fury had killed at least 21 people in central Philippines.

The country's agriculture sector has reportedly suffered an estimated loss of 1.02 billion pesos ($22.8 million) as a result of the typhoon.

Latest government estimates indicate that more than a million people have been affected, including over 400,000 children. Many of them are in evacuation sites.

Sylwander said: " ...there are still almost a million people -- many still recovering from Haiyan -- who have been driven from their homes,"

"These people have made enormous progress in rebuilding their lives over the last 12 months, and they need our help to make sure that these hard-won gains are not washed away by this new disaster," Sylwander said.

UNICEF's efforts also focus on helping children overcome the effects of anxiety and extreme fear, including through psychosocial assistance.

School tents and education materials will also be provided so that children who have been forced to evacuate, or whose schools have been closed or damaged by the storm, can continue learning.

The state weather forecasting agency said Hagupit had weakened and had been downgraded to a tropical storm. However, it is still on the move, bringing with it destructive winds, heavy rain, water surges and landslides.

IANS

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