Wednesday, December 28, 2011

News Update UN warns 87,500 ‘Sendong’ children at risk of abuse, trafficking

Disaster relief workers of the United Nations on Tuesday said it is urgent that measures be put in place to protect thousands of orphaned and unaccompanied children from abuse, neglect and human trafficking syndicates in areas ravaged by Tropical Storm Sendong. “Around 87,500 children require registration and camp coordination to protect them from abuse, exploitation and trafficking in evacuation centers,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said Tuesday in a situation report on the impact of Sendong. “There is a lack of protection mechanisms for vulnerable sub-groups, such as pregnant and lactating women (PLWs), female heads of households, single women, people with disabilities and the elderly,” the report also noted. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is leading its partners in the Child Protection Working Group (CPWG) to work with local government to address the lack of protection against trafficking, exploitation, and abuse. UNICEF’s Edward Lacanilao, co-lead of the child protection cluster in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, told GMA News Online in a telephone interview that the agency is currently coordinating with local partners to determine the exact number of children, and to trace those missing, both in and out of the evacuation centers. “Isa sa plans is to not only raise awareness, but also to capacitate the guardians and caregivers so they can guard children against abuse,” he added. Focus and attention should be trained also in areas outside Cagayan de Oro and Iligan — the two cities hardest hit by Sendong on Dec. 16 — particularly in Lanao del Sur and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), especially when it comes to the needs and delivery of assistance, according to the report “More than 14,000 families in the 53 evacuation centers require urgent water, sanitation and hygiene support including safe drinking water, sanitation/bathing facilities and hygiene promotion,” said the agency, noting that another 50,159 families living outside evacuation centers are also in dire need of assistance. —ELR/VS