Save the Children says they will join the response to assist families in Tonga affected by the volcanic eruption by establishing temporary learning and child-friendly spaces to support children impacted by the trauma of recent events, as well as provide school bags, hygiene kits and cash assistance to affected families.
They say over 80,000 people, including at least 28,000 children, are estimated to have been affected across the country by the eruption and subsequent tsunami.
They also say although the full scale of needs is still being assessed, damage to school infrastructure and learning resources is anticipated and the use of schools as evacuation centres could lead to a delay to the start of the 2022 school year initially planned for January 31st.
Save the Children says lost income due to the disaster will likely impact the ability of families to provide for their children's education and health.
The Foundation says there is a risk that school attendance will be affected, as children and youth are required to work, or families are unable to afford to send them due to the economic impact of the disaster.
Save the Children Fiji CEO, Shairana Ali says they are incredibly concerned about the mental health of children in Tonga as this sort of event will obviously lead to a lot of distress and anxiety, and there is absolutely a need for psychosocial support and counselling for children.
Ali says they still do not have a lot of information about how families have fared on those low-lying islands, so they are very concerned for the safety and the wellbeing of children.
She says assessments are obviously ongoing to understand the needs of children and families in Tonga and they need to ensure that any response is mindful of the COVID risk, while ensuring children get the support they desperately need.
The CEO adds they will work to ensure children are safe and supported in this time of disaster through their Child Friendly Spaces and will utilise existing program staff in Tonga.
She also says they are waiting for a damage assessment report from the NDMO on the impact the volcanic eruption has had on the Lau Group so they can then assist the families based on their needs.
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