Press Release
January 1, 2012

Legarda: Children Continue to Face Threats after Sendong Disaster

Senator Loren Legarda today called on the government to prioritize the needs of some 14,000 children affected by Tropical Storm Sendong who are still in evacuation centers.

Citing reports from the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) that children who are currently living in evacuation centers are most vulnerable especially when separated from their parents, Legarda urged the government to focus on providing food, potable water, basic vitamins, medicine, clothing and ensure sanitation for them.

"As children continue to face threats, particularly to their health and safety, even after Sendong had left the country, the government should prioritize the provision of their basic necessities. Stress debriefing activities are likewise important to help children cope with the trauma that the devastation had caused them," said Legarda, the UNISDR Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia-Pacific.

She cited the Department of Social Welfare and Development's (DSWD) Child Protection Working Group (CPWG) Program which it has organized to protect children, especially those that had lost their parents or guardians or have been separated from them, from abuse, exploitation and trafficking in evacuation centers.

The Senator said that the direct and indirect effects of disasters and climate change on children, who are most vulnerable, must be considered in disaster prevention strategies.

"While victims of Sendong are still reeling from the effects of the disaster, we have to create a sustainable environment that will shield the most vulnerable citizens of the nation. For what will the future hold for our children and the future generations if the disasters of today are continuously destroying the resources we have? Disasters threaten our basic human rights - food, potable water, shelter, decent livelihood and life itself," Legarda pointed out.

She added that "disaster preparedness is our shield against the risks that natural hazards may bring to our sources of fundamental needs. It will likewise provide our children with better opportunities in life since with minimal damages from natural hazards, affected families would no longer have to stay too long in evacuation centers, which stalls student learning."

"We have to make disaster risk reduction a priority if only to ensure that young Filipinos would still have a bright future ahead of them," Legarda concluded.

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