More than 20k kids evacuated from Taal’s ‘danger zone’

Save the Chidlren staff talks to children at Bauan Cockpit Arena which now serves as an evacuation center. (Photo by LJ Pasion/Save the Children)

MANILA – As Taal volcano continues to erupt just 60km from the capital Manila, Save the Children is deeply concerned for thousands of children who have been forced to leave their homes, are missing out on school and face hunger and disease in cramped and unsanitary evacuation centers. An estimated 21,000 children living in the 14km danger zone identified by the Philippines government have been evacuated from their homes.

Jerome Balinton, Humanitarian Manager for the Save the Children Philippines, said one evacuation area they visited is a cockpit arena.

“Our humanitarian team have just visited a cockpit arena now doubling up as an evacuation center and it was heart-breaking. More than 900 people are sleeping on the cold, hard surface without mats. Due to sudden evacuation, people were not able to bring blankets, hygiene essentials, mosquito net, and supplies for babies such as diapers. Small children are suffering from respiratory diseases such as coughs and colds due to close proximity to so many other people. With over 200 volcanic earthquakes reported since Sunday, families have no idea when or even if they will be able to return to their homes. This uncertainty can be devastating for children,” Balinton said.

Families resting on boxes that serve as mat while they stay at Bauan Cockpit Arena which now serves as an evacuation center. (Photo by LJ Pasion/Save the Children)

Alberto Muyot, Chief Executive Officer for Save the Children Philippines, raised concerns on the children’s situation.

“Children are not just little adults; they require specific support to meet their emotional and psychological needs. Infants, toddlers, and children require special care and supplies during and after natural disasters. Unless this support is provided quickly, children are likely to suffer long-term developmental, physical and psychological setbacks. Authorities need to coordinate with parents and caregivers to prepare for children’s unique needs at times of disaster. Save the Children is on the ground in the affected area and working closely with the government to determine the immediate needs of children,” Muyot said.