Children will bear the brunt of climate change: UNICEF

 

Children will bear the brunt of climate change: UNICEF

On 12 November, a woman cradling a baby stands amid debris and other destruction caused by Super Typhoon Haiyan, in Tacloban City – the area worst affected by the disaster – on the central island of Leyte. Water, sanitation and hygiene, food, medicine, shelter, debris clearance and communications are among the priority needs. Blocked roads have limited access and the delivery of relief supplies. On 12 November 2013 in the Philippines, Government-led emergency relief and recovery operations continue in the wake of the destruction caused by Super Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda), which hit the central Philippines on 8 November. At least 2,500 people have been killed in the Category-5 storm; the death toll is expected to rise as more affected areas become accessible. Some 11.3 million people, including an estimated 4.7 million children, in nine regions across the country have been affected, and more than 673,000 people have been displaced. Most of them are sheltering in overcrowded evacuation centres. The storm, one of the most powerful ever recorded in the world, also destroyed homes, schools, hospitals, roads, communications and other basic infrastructure, and damaged power and water supply systems. As a result, access to the many areas remains limited, hampering humanitarian relief operations. In response to the emergency, UNICEF is rushing critical supplies to affected areas, including therapeutic food for children, health kits, and water and hygiene kits for up to 3,000 families. UNICEF is also airlifting US $1.3 million in additional relief supplies from its supply warehouse in Copenhagen for another 10,000 families, including those affected by the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that hit Bohol Province in mid-October. The shipments contain water purification tablets, soap, medical kits, tarpaulin sheets and micronutrient supplements. UNICEF is also supporting water and sanitation, education and child protection interventions for vulnerable children and
© UNICEF/NYHQ2013-1027/Maitem
A woman and her baby amid debris and other destruction caused by Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

More than half a billion children live in areas with extremely high flood occurrence, 160 million live in high drought severity areas

NEW YORK/GENEVA/ HONG KONG, 24 November 2015 – More than half a billion children live in areas with extremely high flood occurrence and 160 million in high drought severity zones, leaving them highly exposed to the impacts of climate change, UNICEF said in a report released ahead of the 21st United Nations climate change conference, known as COP21.
Of the 530 million children in the flood-prone zones, some 300 million live in countries where more than half the population lives in poverty – on less than HK$24.2 (US$3.10) a day. Of those living in high drought severity areas, 50 million are in countries where more than half the population lives in poverty.
“The sheer numbers underline the urgency of acting now,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “Today’s children are the least responsible for climate change, but they, and their children, are the ones who will live with its consequences. And, as is so often the case, disadvantaged communities face the gravest threat.”
Climate change means more droughts, floods, heatwaves and other severe weather conditions. These events can cause death and devastation, and can also contribute to the increased spread of major killers of children, such as malnutrition, malaria and diarrhoea. This can create a vicious circle: A child deprived of adequate water and sanitation before a crisis will be more affected by a flood, drought, or severe storm, less likely to recover quickly, and at even greater risk when faced with a subsequent crisis.
The vast majority of the children living in areas at extremely high risk of floods are in Asia, and the majority of those in areas at risk of drought are in Africa.
World leaders gathering in Paris for COP21 – held from November 30 to December 11 – will seek to reach agreement on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, which most experts say is critical to limiting potentially catastrophic rises in temperature.
“We know what has to be done to prevent the devastation climate change can inflict. Failing to act would be unconscionable,” said Lake. “We owe it to our children – and to the planet – to make the right decisions at COP21.”
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