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Tacloban's children face uncertain future after Typhoon Haiyan

Young typhoon victims queue to receive food distributed by government employees along a road in Hernani, Eastern Samar province, central Philippines on Nov. 19, 2013. GETTY IMAGES/AFP PHOTO/Ted Aljibe

Until the arrival of Typhoon Haiyan 12-year-old Ralph Ramirez thought his family’s home was indestructible.

Now it’s a pile of rubble like most of the Philippines city of Tacloban.

He and his family climbed a tree to escape the massive surge of water generated by one of the biggest storms in recorded history.

Ralph, the nine other members of his family, and the new dog they’ve adopted and named Typhoon, now have a shack built from some of the debris.

But he says the loss of their home is painful.

“No typhoon that came before ever damaged our house,” Ramirez told Reuters.

“It’s just this time, because it was so strong. Those other typhoons never did any damage, neighbours would even put their things in our house to be safe. But this time it was totally destroyed, and it really hurts me to see it.”

This school provides food and shelter for the survivors of the storm.

The children’s group UNICEF estimates 1.7 million children are among those displaced by it.

Ralph’s been one of the luckier ones: at least none of his family was killed.

UNICEF is setting up centres in Tacloban where play helps take young minds off the national tragedy and where those who need it can get counselling.

“A young girl I met with, eight years old, lost 20 of her classmates and friends. How do you process that?” UNICEF child protection specialist Pernille Ironside said.

Tacloban’s devastated airport is back in action to some extent.

Military aircraft are being used to fly typhoon survivors to Manila and other cities.

Many are going to go and live with relatives as they face up to the prospect that it could take years to rebuild their shattered lives.

Red Cross begins treating patients at field hospital

Meanwhile, doctors treated their first patients in the Canadian Red Cross emergency field hospital on Thursday.

“Our teams on the ground have been working around the clock to get the  hospital going,” Conrad Sauvé, secretary general and CEO of the  Canadian Red Cross, said in a statement.

“Now that this hospital is in place, we will be able to cover the  health needs of a population of more than 100,000 people.”

The hospital, which is set up in front of the local hospital in Ormoc, is providing surgery, medicine, maternal and child care and outpatient services.

It will remain in place for up to four months, the federal government said.

Canadians who want to donate through the Red Cross can do so via redcross.ca and designate typhoon Haiyan. They can also donate $5 by texting redcross at 30333.

Canadians needing urgent consular help following Typhoon Haiyan can email sos@international.gc.ca or call collect 613-996-8885.

The federal government has set up phone numbers for Canadians looking for information on relatives and friends who may have been caught in the affected areas. They are 1-800-387-3124 or 613-996-8885.