Super Typhoon Yolanda not only left millions of people homeless in Central Visayas. It also exposed 1.7 million children to exploitation and trafficking because of the desperation brought about by the disruption of economic activities in typhoon-scarred areas.
Sarah Norton-Staal, Child Protection chief of the United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (Unicef), said that disasters as massive as Yolanda exposes children to sexual violence, trafficking and exploitation either because they have lost their parents, or the parents are busy finding ways for the family to survive.
“Parents are on the move, looking for food for survival of their family, they may leave their children behind, and this is where children are at risk. They are at risk of trafficking . . . in previous disasters, we’ve seen about 10 percent prevalence of trafficking. We’re really concerned about that,” Norton-Staal said.
“Also there is no safe place for children since 90 percent of the daycare and schools are destroyed,” she added.
According to Valerie Amos, UN undersecretary general for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, there are about 3.2 million women and 4.2 million children in need of “psycho-social support” because violence, trafficking and exploitation are evident throughout the affected region in Visayas and Palawan.
Norton-Staal said the UN aims to prevent such abuses by making the people aware of the dangers faced by children. She said that they will encourage people to be vigilant and to report or identify suspected traffickers or people out to abuse children in the disaster areas.