Children separated from parents at increased risk of violence and exploitation in emergencies, warns World Vision
MISSISSAUGA, ON, Nov. 15, 2013 /CNW/ - Concern is growing about the welfare of children who are among the most vulnerable victims in a disaster. Out of those affected by Typhoon Haiyan, estimates put the number of children at roughly 40% of the total.
Due to the high death toll, many children are feared to be alone and separated from parents or other caregivers.
Separated children face many challenges in emergencies:
- Increased violence due to a lack of shelter, cramped quarters and a lack of privacy;
- The potential of sexual abuse;
- Being lost and ignored, largely missing out on aid efforts, because they have no identification documentation;
- And coping with severe distress as they try to find the means to survive, while at the same time, try to make sense of what happened to them and their loved ones.
"Without protection from family or friends, separated children, in particular, are at great risk," says Canadian Cheryl Hotchkiss, Senior Advocacy Manager with World Vision. "World Vision is working to set up safe spaces for children in evacuation centres but the magnitude of the problem requires a holistic response from the Government of Philippines, UN agencies, and donor governments to make sure that these children don't slip through the cracks."
World Vision is prioritizing children in the immediate relief efforts given that their vulnerability is likely to increase as the crisis continues. Along with much needed emergency supplies, World Vision has sent 30 large tents to house child-friendly spaces where children can play, take part in informal learning and have a chance to return to some semblance of a routine.
"First aid for kids means not only a physical response but a psychological one as well," adds Hotchkiss, "Our teams are seeing psychosocial distress and meeting those needs for children will set the groundwork for how well they recover from such a horrific experience."
Canadians wishing to support the emergency response in the Philippines can donate by clicking on www.worldvision.ca or by calling 1-866-595-5550.
The Canadian government has announced a Typhoon Haiyan Relief Fund. Through this fund, the government will set aside one dollar for every eligible dollar donated by individual Canadians to World Vision Canada or other registered Canadian charities between Nov 9th and Dec 9th, 2013.
World Vision is a Christian relief, development and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. Visit our News Centre at worldvision.ca.
SOURCE World Vision Canada