Save the Children Philippines steps up assistance to displaced children in earthquake-hit areas in Mindanao
Save the Children Philippines has delivered family hygiene kits and plastic tarpaulins to ease the suffering of children and their families affected by the series of strong earthquakes in Mindanao.
A total of 1,051 family hygiene kits and 130 plastic tarpaulins have been distributed to children and their families in the most affected towns of Makilala and Magpet in North Cotabato to protect them from contagious diseases while in cramped evacuation centers and while temporary taking shelter in makeshift tents outside their damaged houses.
The humanitarian team of Save the Children Philippines will set up temporary learning spaces and distribute teaching kits starting this week to ensure displaced learners can resume classes.
Lawyer Alberto Muyot, chief executive officer of Save the Children Philippines said the resumption of classes is critical to address psychosocial stress of affected children because it re-establishes their routines.
"Keeping children safe inside learning spaces is critical in times of emergencies. Children know that education gives them power to build a better future," said Muyot in a statement.
Initial figures from the Department of Education (DepEd) showed that some 3.2 million school-age children have been affected by the series of earthquakes that hit four regions in Mindanao including the war-torn Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) as well as Davao and SOCCSKSARGEN regions. Out of the 3.2 million children, at least 1.6 million of them are in Davao, SOCCSKSARGEN, and BARMM, regions that were affected by the earthquake.
Jerome Balinton, humanitarian manager of Save the Children Philippines, said the three temblors have caused massive destruction and damage to houses, schools, roads and infrastructure and it may take years to complete rehabilitation of the damaged infrastructure. Latest report from DepEd as of Nov. 11 also show that 1,046 classrooms were totally damaged, while some 1,274 classrooms sustained major damage.
"But children cannot wait. The need for psychosocial support, shelter, water, hygiene and sanitation and the resumption of classes in safe learning environments is immediate and crucial to the recovery of children and their families," said Balinton.
At the moment, more than 11,000 families remain in evacuation centers, with limited access to water and sanitation facilities. And with many schools being used as evacuation centers, children's learning is also affected. DepEd report also shows that there are 41 schools used as evacuation centers.
A total of 260,492 people were affected by the three strong earthquakes across Mindanao, with 24 dead. Of the affected population, over 103,000 individuals are in Makilala town.
"The numbers are expected to escalate as most of the affected families live in hard to reach areas," said Balinton.