Children at high risk in post cyclone chaos

With more than one million children affected by the cyclone and its aftermath, World Vision’s round the clock efforts to meet basic survival needs are compounded by fears for children, World Vision CEO Claire Rogers said today.

“Tiny babies in Beira’s main hospital died when the electricity for their care went out. This chilling fact demonstrates how children are always the most vulnerable in disasters like this,” said Ms Rogers, who is on the ground in Beira. “Many children are on their own, unable to find their parents in the post-cyclone rescue chaos. We must act fast to protect child survivors from sexual violence and trafficking.”

Over the weekend World Vision reached more than 3,500 people in Zambézia province with tents, tarps, blankets and mosquito nets and should reach tens of thousands this week.

“Planeloads of aid are arriving and we’re using locally available supplies but with some communities only accessible by air, getting aid to those who need it urgently is taking longer than we’d like,” said Ms Rogers, who is concerned that rising floodwaters will bring fresh dangers to those without shelter, clean water and food.

“The child-friendly spaces we’re about to set up will be safe places for children to rest and play. We’re troubled by reports that children are being taken to overcrowded orphanages or camps where they won’t be protected.”

The long-term impact on already vulnerable children is an ongoing concern for World Vision, as girls in Zimbabwe already suffer high rates of sexual violence, and Mozambique and Malawi have critical rates of child marriage.

“Disasters can force parents into sending their young daughters into marriage to cope with increased poverty. We must remember just how vulnerable children in parts of these countries were before this one-in-a-generation disaster hit last week,” said Ms Rogers. “On the ground, we’re working hard to get aid through, help families rebuild their lives, and protect children.”

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