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Children widely ignored in Philippines recovery

Source: Plan International - Fri, 20 Dec 2013 10:45 AM
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Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

CHILDREN must be central to recovery plans after the devastating Philippines storm, a new report finds.

Nearly six million children have been caught up in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan – accounting for 41 per cent of those affected.

Yet the study by leading children’s charities, including Plan International, revealed no systematic effort to canvass or have their views heard.

Risks that girls and boys face include death, injury, illness, separation from families, disruption to education, child labour and trafficking.

“It’s vital that the needs of children and what they want to happen next are included to make sure that the right kind of aid reaches the right people,” said Dr Unni Krishnan, Emergency Response Manager for Plan in the Philippines. “It is also important the role of children in building resilience in disasters is recognised.”

Interviews with children after Haiyan hit show their priorities to include rebuilding homes, returning to school and restoring electricity.

The report also reveals children played a crucial role in the evacuation and preparedness that saved thousands of lives before the storm.

Many of those talked to are scared of another storm hitting, but are keen to learn more about how they can prepare for future disasters.

Despite living through traumatic events, children are taking new roles and responsibilities in the rebuilding of their communities. But they need psychosocial support to help them recover, authors of the report conclude.

Recommendations include more consultation with children and better information for them on how to prepare for future emergencies.

“Children and young people will be deeply affected by what they have lived through and the impact of a major disaster can affect the future of a generation,” said Dr Krishnan.

“We must ensure that they are involved so communities can build back stronger and build back better.”

The research was carried out with children aged 8 to 17 across affected areas of the Philippines by Save the Children , Plan, UNICEF and World Vision.
Plan International and UNICEF carried out a similar assessment with children after the 2010 Haiti earthquake – the findings of which were eventually incorporated into the country’s national recovery plans.

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