The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said Saturday that up to 1.7 million Philippine children could be affected by super typhoon Haiyan, which tore through the country over the last 48 hours.
As the full typhoon impact is being assessed, UNICEF's representative in the Philippines Tomoo Hozumi said, "With some 36 provinces reported by the government to have been hit by the typhoon -- the strongest ever to have made landfall anywhere in the world -- we know that a significant number of children will have been badly affected."
"UNICEF's first priorities are focused on life-saving interventions -- getting essential medicines, nutrition supplies, safe water and hygiene supplies to children and families," Hozumi said in a statement.
UNICEF would join a rapid assessment within the next days, as conditions allow more access to the hardest hit regions.
The UN agency's supply systems were mobilized and UNICEF was ready with non-governmental organization (NGO) partners to help spearhead the response for children as access improves, said the statement.
UNICEF staff already in the Philippines were being repositioned to deliver emergency response, with more colleagues on the way as backup, it said.
UNICEF's supply division in Copenhagen, Denmark, was loading some 60 tons of emergency supplies, including health, medical and shelter equipment, onto trucks bounding for the Copenhagen airport for an emergency airlift.
Other supply divisions in Europe and Asia were also airlifting water purification and storage equipment and sanitation supplies directly from suppliers to Manila, capital of the Philippines.
The supplies were expected to arrive in the Philippines on Tuesday, the statement added.