Typhoon Haiyan: Four million children without food or water in Philippines as aid effort struggles

There is a desperate need for food, water and medicine in the aftermath of the disaster

Cebu

Up to four million children in the eastern Philippines are in desperate need of food, water and medicine in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan. Their lives are at risk unless the tardy pace of delivering emergency supplies is rapidly improved.

Aid workers say that along with the elderly, children are always the most vulnerable in any natural disaster. But following Haiyan, there are concerns there is an utter absence of safe places for children who may have been separated from their families, or indeed orphaned.

An assessment by the charity Save the Children suggests that 3.9m children are in the area devastated by the storm and urgently need basic supplies. Reaching them is proving to be more difficult than experts had initially assessed.

“Like everybody else they are hungry and they need water,” the charity’s Miles Barter told The Independent.  “But there are also issues of child protection. It’s important to set up places where these children are safe. We call these places child-friendly spaces. It sounds like jargon but they are really important.” 

The warning over the plight of youngsters came as the Philippines’ President, Benigno Aquino, found himself under growing pressure to speed up the distribution of food, water and medicine. More than half-a-dozen large transport planes are flying on a rotation from the airport in the city of Cebu, located on a neighbouring island.

But while international relief efforts have picked up, many petrol station owners whose businesses were spared from the storm have refused to reopen, leaving little fuel for trucks needed to move supplies and medical teams around the devastated areas nearly a week after the typhoon struck.

“There are still bodies on the road,” Alfred Romualdez, mayor of Tacloban, told Reuters. Tacloban was one of the locations in the path of the storm and the city of 220,000 has been reduced to rubble.

The city government remains paralysed, with just 70 workers compared to 2,500 normally, he added. Many were killed, injured, lost family or were simply too overcome with grief to show up for work.

“It’s scary. There is a request from a community to come and collect bodies,” said the mayor. “They say it’s five or 10. When we get there, it’s 40.”

Among the countries sending aid to the Philippines are the US and Japan, nations that once bitterly fought for control of the islands but which are now are at the forefront of the huge rescue operation.

Japan is preparing to send as many as 1,000 troops, as well as naval vessels and aircraft, in what could be Tokyo’s biggest postwar military deployment.

Meanwhile, the USS George Washington nuclear-powered super carrier has also arrived, along with a number of escorts ships, 5,000 crew and more than 80 aircraft. It will be involved in coordinating search-and-rescue operations and providing a platform for helicopters to move supplies.

The Associated Press said that Japan’s Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters 1,000 soldiers from the Self-Defence Forces were being sent to the Philippines. Three naval vessels may also be dispatched, along with helicopters and aircraft.

Reports say that Japan has already donated $10m in aid to the Philippines and sent a 25-strong emergency medical relief team. But the deployment of the 1,000 additional soldiers would mean the effort was bigger than the country’s response to the 2004 tsunami which devastated Indonesia’s Aceh province.

Japan invaded the Philippines in World War Two and scattered fighting continued until Tokyo’s surrender in 1945. But Philippine officials have said their nation does not share the concerns of others in Asia, notably China and South Korea, about Japan’s military past.

The UN has estimated 11.5m people are affected by Typhoon Haiyan and that 544,600 people remain displaced. It says trucks and fuel are urgently needed to deliver aid and that debris and logistics continue to severely constrain the delivery of humanitarian assistance. 

The first C-130 transport planes arrived at 3am at Tacloban airport, the first night-time flight since the typhoon struck last Friday, suggesting air control systems are now in place for a continuous operation. However, on Thursday evening it seemed the planes had been halted for the night.

Gegham Petrosyan, from International Committee of the Red Cross, said destruction along the south cost of Samar island had been “massive.”

“People are desperate for life-saving aid,” he said. “However, logistical and security constraints continue to hamper the distribution of desperately needed relief.”

The official death toll rose to 2,357, according a national tally kept by the disaster agency. That figure is expected to rise when accurate information is collected from the whole disaster zone, which spreads over a wide swathe of the eastern and central Philippines but appears to be concentrated on two main islands, Leyte and Samar.

There have also been allegations from local officials and politicians that the authorities are intentionally suppressing the true scale of the storm, for political reasons.

President Aquino has been on the defensive over his handling of the storm. He has said the death toll might have been higher had it not been for the evacuation of people and the readying of relief supplies, but survivors from worst-affected areas say they had little warning of a tsunami-like wall of water.

While Tacloban has been the focus for much of the efforts so far, aid workers say they have found that several other islands have also been badly affected and need assistance.

“More than 90,000 homes have been totally destroyed in Panay, along with hundreds of boats in the fishing-dependent island,” said Save the Children’s Evan Schuurman, who is in the region.

“The people are suffering. Power poles have been snapped in half, trees uprooted and buildings turned to rubble. Electricity has not been restored and many people are struggling to feed their families.”

Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
beauty
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
transfers
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Sport
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
film
News
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
News
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Sport
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Sport
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
tv
Sport
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
News
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
people
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
tech
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

JavaScript Developer (Angular, Web Forms, HTML5, Ext JS,CSS3)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: JavaScript Dev...

BC2

£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

SAP Data Migration Consultant

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...

Programme Support, Coms, Bristol, £300-350p/d

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice