“Last Friday, when most of us were looking forward to our weekends, several islands far away in the Philippines were struck by a devastating storm,” he wrote. "It wasn’t until the next day that the true enormity of the so called ‘Super Typhoon Haiyan’ was understood.
“This was the most powerful typhoon ever to hit land anywhere in the world. Homes, schools and hospitals have been destroyed, roads are unable to be used and children still urgently need food, water, shelter and power. In areas of the worst affected island, it’s reported to look like the aftermath of the terrible tsunami that struck on Boxing Day almost a decade ago.
“The news trickling through was, and still is, absolutely horrifying. Thousands dead, homes flattened, with children lost and separated from their parents, surviving without food or water.
“In any emergency, children are the most vulnerable and with each passing day, the danger these children face is heightened. So now, I am writing this to you, fellow readers of ‘The Daily Mirror’, as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and as a Dad to four children.
“An estimated 5 million children are now affected. Those figures so huge that it’s hard to really get how many children that is. In footballing terms, it’s enough children to fill 64 packed Wembley stadiums. Any parent seeing the news will be thinking of their own children, I’m certainly thinking of mine. It’s terrifying to imagine them alone after the storm, injured, lost and confused, just trying to survive each day on their own.
“But there is hope. And everyone really can make a difference. A real, life-saving difference. Responding to an emergency of this level is complicated, unimaginably so. It feels impossible but organisations like UNICEF do make it possible to ease the suffering. UNICEF is working around the clock to deliver life-saving aid to these children.
“Several plane-loads of supplies landed in some of the most badly affected areas last week, delivering supplies such as emergency food for malnourished children, health kits, water pumps and generators, which are being used to get the water supplies up and running again. Providing clean water is one of the most important steps in preventing an outbreak of disease. Hygiene kits, that contain things like soap and water buckets, have now reached children and their families in Tacloban. UNICEF will continue to deliver supplies to children affected, providing life-saving emergency food for malnourished children and setting up safe spaces for children to play, while their families are traced.
“Weeks and months later, when the news coverage has moved onto another story, UNICEF will still be there, helping children to survive and recover, reuniting children separated from their families during the typhoon, protecting them from the threat of abuse or trafficking and helping them to overcome the trauma of what they’ve seen and experienced.
“I was with UNICEF in the Philippines two years ago so I know with utter certainty that the team will be doing everything in their power to help. UNICEF has been working in the Philippines since 1947 so their experience and local knowledge is huge.
“As a father I know there is nothing I wouldn’t do for my children and I am sure you feel the same – but for those families in the Philippines facing an uncertain future, they need you to do something. £10 could provide a water kit for a family, so that they can collect, store and make water safe to drink which could make a life or death difference.
“UNICEF receives no funding from the Disaster Emergency Committee, but its crucial work for children relies solely on the generosity of individuals such as you.
To give £5, please text UNICEF to 70800, or telephone 0800 044 5888, or visit www.unicef.org.uk/mirror – children in the Philippines need your help now. I promise your donation will make a huge difference."
Source: UNICEF UK