Posted by Paddy Ashdown, Friday 29 November 2013 11.52 EST
Far from being isolated, the Philippines typhoon Haiyan followed other extraordinary meteorological events that are becoming more frequent and increasingly severe
A Philippine Air Force crewman looks out from his helicopter over the typhoon Haiyan-ravaged city of Tacloban. Photograph: Dita Alangkara/AP
Three weeks ago the most powerful typhoon ever recorded to hit land destroyed parts of the Philippines. The devastation has been catastrophic, flattening homes, schools and hospitals and leaving thousands dead and 5.5 million children affected.
Unicef has worked in the Philippines since 1948 and experienced staff returning from the worst affected areas such as Leyte are reporting having never seen anything like this – not even after the Asian tsunami on Boxing day almost a decade ago. They have seen hundreds of kilometres of coconut groves literally blown away by 300kph winds. A coconut tree takes 12 years to grow, so this is a decade of livelihoods wiped out in a single storm.
I am incredibly concerned about the children who are without a doubt the most vulnerable right now. But as the immediate shock of the typhoon news reports begin to fade from people’s memories we need to address with energy and decision the true facts behind the intensity of the Philippines typhoon.
If the Philippines typhoon was an isolated incident, it would be a meteorological phenomenon, but the real worry is that far from being isolated, these events are both frequent and increasingly severe. This typhoon comes on top of other extraordinary meteorological events that have occurred recently; unprecedented floods caused by a cyclone in Sardinia last week; unprecede