More than 100,000 people have been forced from their homes since Typhoon Koppu made landfall over the Philippines' northern island of Luzon early on Sunday morning, destroying houses with wind gusts of up to 210 kilometres per hour.
Three days of torrential rain are triggering widespread flooding and landslides as the typhoon - known locally as Lando - moves slowly across Aurora province.
Some regions have been inundated with 100-200mm of rain - more than half their average monthly rainfall - in just one day, while coastal communities could face storm surges of up to 4 metres. The government’s early action to inform and evacuate communities has minimised the impact to life and property, yet three people have been killed and five injured by landslides, collapsed walls and toppled trees.
A mother carries her daughter as they evacuate from the town of Laur, Nueva Ecija, in the aftermath of Typhoon Koppu. © UNICEF PHILIPPINES/2015/JEOFFREY MAITEM
UNICEF Philippines is monitoring the impact on children, although communications are down in parts of the affected area and the full extent of damage is still unclear. Staff are coordinating with the Philippines Government and are ready to provide emergency assistance should it be requested.
Pre-positioned medical stocks, nutritional supplements and water and hygiene kits are all on standby for immediate distribution to 12,000 families if needed.
UNICEF’s first priority is to keep children safe from contaminated water sources, lack of food, and the epidemics which often follow in the wake of a typhoon, such as cholera, hypothermia, diarrhoea and pneumonia, said UNICEF Philippines Representative Lotta Sylwander.
“Secondly, we must ensure that the rhythm of children’s lives are restored and that they get back to school as soon as possible. Typhoon Koppu’s slow moving path includes mountainous and hard-to-reach areas, and we are concerned about the wellbeing of all affected children. UNICEF is ready to respond as soon as asked to by the Government.”
While reports from affected areas are trickling in, UNICEF’s emergency experts foresee needs in restoration of safe water supply for flooded areas, health and nutrition specifically support for breastfeeding mothers and new born children, and resumption of children’s education.
How can UNICEF help in emergencies?
When natural disasters strike, UNICEF can launch a rapid response to:
- Restore life-saving medical services, water and sanitation.
- Deliver emergency hygiene and nutritional supplies to families who have lost everything.
- Reunite separated children with their parents.
- Set up child-friendly spaces to keep kids off the streets and away from danger.
- Provide counselling and pyschosocial support for children suffering profound stress.
- Help kids back to school and through every step of the long-term recovery.
The full impact of Typhoon Koppu remains to be seen but UNICEF stands ready to help wherever it is needed.
Empowering children to be disaster-ready
Typhoon Koppu comes just days after a UNICEF-supported camp taught children how to prepare themselves and their communities for such a crisis. The program puts children at the centre of disaster risk reduction, teaching them about key hazzards, staying safe and their own rights in an emergency.