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UNICEF assists children and families affected by Tropical Storm Washi (Sendong) in the Philippines

2011-12-20

MANILA, PHILIPPINES, 20 December 2011 – UNICEF is delivering water and sanitation supplies to assist in the provision of clean water and sanitation facilities for 15,000 families affected by the devastating floods in southern Philippines.

The tropical storm swept through the southern island during the night of December 16th, dropping the equivalent of one month’s rainfall in a single day. The resulting flash floods, which rose very quickly during the night, killed at least 957 people. At least 49 people are still missing.

UNICEF is now turning its focus to the estimated 200,000 children affected by the floods, with 20,000 currently in evacuation centres.

“A lack of clean water and sanitation facilities is of great concern at the present time, as we know children are highly vulnerable to diarrhoeal disease and dehydration," said Anselme Motcho, Acting Head of Office, UNICEF Philippines. "UNICEF is on the ground to support the government’s efforts, and is working round the clock to provide for the many children and families affected. We are also carefully monitoring the safety of children in the very overcrowded evacuation centres."

Assessments with other UN and government agencies have revealed urgent water and sanitation needs. The water systems of the two main areas affected, Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities, have been totally destroyed leaving most residents with no safe, reliable source of water. As a result UNICEF has immediately dispatched water kits, hygiene kits, water bladders, temporary pit latrines and mobile water units to the affected area. Two hundred portable toilets are also being prepared for dispatch to address the dire need for sanitation facilities.

Additional needs revealed by the rapid assessment are temporary shelter, non-food items such as blankets and mats for sleeping, and child registration and counselling services.

“UNICEF and its partners will stay as long as needed to get these families and communities back on their feet. Whilst our current focus is immediate needs, we will soon be turning our attention to how communities can be better prepared and warned to reduce the risk of disasters, and prevent such a massive loss of life,” said Motcho.

Canadians wishing to support UNICEF’s emergency response efforts can donate online at www.unicef.ca to the organization's general emergency response fund.

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About UNICEF

UNICEF is the world's leading child-focused humanitarian and development agency. Through innovative programs and advocacy work, we save children's lives and secure their rights in virtually every country. Our global reach, unparalleled influence on policymakers, and diverse partnerships make us an instrumental force in shaping a world in which no child dies of a preventable cause. UNICEF is entirely supported by voluntary donations and helps all children, regardless of race, religion or politics. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca.

For further information:

Stefanie Carmichael, Communications Specialist, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8866; Cell: (647) 500-4230, scarmichael@unicef.ca.
Tiffany Baggetta, Director, Communications and Brand, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8892; Cell: (647) 308-4806, tbaggetta@unicef.ca.