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Evacuation centered

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A report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) has found that Filipino children aged 18 and below are the most displaced children in the world due to weather-related disasters from 2016 to 2021.

“The Philippines is at the epicenter of this crisis, bearing the highest absolute number of child displacements at 9.7 million,” the Unicef said in its recently released report “Children Displaced in Changing Climate.”

The Unicef report that was the first global analysis of the number of children driven away from their homes due to floods, storms, droughts, and wildfires, and also looks at projections for the next 30 years.

It noted that in terms of hazard, the Philippines ranked first for storms (8.3 million), and third for floods (1.3 million), in absolute numbers of children displaced.

Based on the analysis, there were 43.1 million internal displacements of children linked to weather-related disasters over the last six years, which is equivalent to approximately 20,000 child displacements per day. Unsurprisingly, the Philippines’ figure comprised 22.5 percent of the total number of displaced children worldwide. It is followed by India and China, the most populous nations in the world.

“Children are among those who suffer the most when they are displaced in times of disasters. They experience stress, lose days in school, get sick, and become more prone to exploitation and abuse,” said Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov, Unicef representative to the Philippines.

“We need to strengthen efforts to protect children at risk and support those already displaced,” she added.

According to the report, which matches the Filipino experience, floods and storms together accounted for 95 percent of recorded total child displacements between 2016 and 2021, and based on a disaster displacement risk model developed by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, riverine floods could displace almost 96 million children over the next 30 years.

In a country where storms and flooding almost always lead to evacuations and displacement, a better system to protect affected Filipinos, especially children, should already be in place all across the nation, particularly in areas that are historically known to be vulnerable. Our government cannot stop the extreme weather disturbances, which are expected to be more intense due to climate change, but it should make evacuations and evacuation centers better equipped to handle the influx of evacuees, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to the towns and cities that are in the usually in the path of the many typhoons that crisscross our country throughout the year.*

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