Typhoon survivors fight to protect kids as security deteriorates

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Story highlights

  • Baby born in makeshift hospital was "perfect delivery in a very imperfect environment"
  • Roughly 300,000 pregnant women, new mothers in need of food, government says
  • U.N. agency says it's distributing solar-powered lamps to curb "gender-based violence"

The hospital applauded when the girl was born.

Many pregnant women had been evacuated to give birth after Typhoon Haiyan left Tacloban's medical centers in shambles, but the mother didn't have time. Neighbors brought her to a makeshift hospital Monday.

"The baby came out and cried right away. There wasn't problems. There was no bleeding," said. Capt. Antonio Tamayo of the Philippines air force. "It was a perfect delivery in a very imperfect environment."

It was a small victory in an area dominated by loss. Haiyan so brutally hammered Tacloban that the national Department of Health has sent medical teams to take over hospitals so local staff can rest and the medical centers -- many of them struggling to fulfill basic needs without electricity -- can be operational again, the Philippines Daily Inquirer reported. Singapore, Germany and Norway are also sending teams.

"Our first goal is to make the hospitals function, especially if they are not structurally damaged," Health Undersecretary Teodoro Herbosa said during a briefing, according to the newspaper.

While the destruction is indiscriminate and damaged airports and blocked roads make the distribution of aid difficult, women and children are especially at risk as looting, the mobbing of relief trucks and prison breaks exacerbate an already dangerous situation, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

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More than 2 million people need food aid, the Philippine government said. Nearly 300,000 of them are pregnant women or new mothers.

    "Women and children are begging on the streets for donations, exposing themselves to abuse and exploitation," the U.N. agency said in a statement. "With power lines still down, the lack of lighting has made women and children at home and in evacuation centers more vulnerable, especially at night."

    The UNHCR is also deploying "protection experts" among the emergency teams it's sending to the area, and it will distribute 50,000 solar-powered lanterns in hopes of lessening the the risks of "gender-based violence" and increasing security among families who have lost their homes, it said.

    During the storm, survivor Jenelyn Manocsoc held her 11-month-old boy on her head to keep him out of the water as she clung to roof rafters.

    "All I hear is many cries, many people crying. Many people say, 'Help!' " she said.

    She doesn't know where her husband and many of her relatives are, she said.

    "Now I don't know where we go," she said. "It's very traumatic. It's very hard."

    Many parents are trying to get their children out of harm's way, a daunting task considering the level of devastation and the long line of people hoping to be evacuated.

    Another survivor, Jovelyn Dy, had twin boys just three weeks ago, and she desperately wants to find a safe haven for them.

    "We wake up, and there's some people inside our house, looters. They could harm my children and us as well," she said.

    READ: How it happened: Tracing Typhoon Haiyan's havoc in the Philippines