The UN Children's Fund ( UNICEF) said here Sunday that it is rushing emergency supplies to areas of the Philippines ravaged by super typhoon Haiyan on Friday, as the latest estimates indicate that up to 4 million children could now be affected by the disaster.
Therapeutic food for children, health kits, water and hygiene kits to support up to 3,000 families in the affected areas have already been mobilized from supplies available in the country, with distribution prioritized for the Tacloban area as soon as possible, the UN agency said in a press release issued here.
"We are rushing to get critical supplies to children who are bearing the brunt of this crisis," said UNICEF Philippines Representative Tomoo Hozumi.
"Reaching the worst affected areas is very difficult, with limited access due to the damage caused by the typhoon to infrastructure and communications. But we are working around the clock to find ways to get these supplies to children as quickly as conditions allow," Hozumi said.
The powerful typhoon that swept across the Philippines on Friday, one of the strongest storms ever to make landfall, cut a path of destruction through several central islands, leaving the seaside city of Tacloban in ruins and leading to early, unconfirmed estimates of as many as 10,000 dead, reports said.
UNICEF's warehouse in Copenhagen, Denmark, is airlifting 1.3 million U.S. dollars worth of additional supplies for another 10, 000 families in the Philippines, including those affected by the recent earthquake in Bohol. The shipments contain water purification tablets, soap, medical kits, tarpaulins, and micronutrient supplements, said the press release.
Children who have escaped the terrible damage of Haiyan still need urgent assistance to survive the aftermath of the storm. Particular concerns include health, due to the impact of the typhoon on water supply and sanitation systems.
"As we get a better picture of the impact of this devastating crisis, it is clear that even more children are affected than first thought," said Hozumi. "UNICEF is doing all it can to reach these children, as quickly as possible with critical supplies, to protect their health, safety and wellbeing in the difficult days ahead."
Haiyan, known locally as Yolanda, is the third major crisis to hit the Philippines in just two months. In October, the Bohol earthquake affected more than 3 million people, triggering landslides engulfing entire homes, ripping apart bridges and tearing down centuries-old churches.
Seven cities in the country's three different provinces were initially affected. In September, tens of thousands were forcibly displaced by armed clashes in Zamboanga City in the southern part of the country.