Top UN aid official calls for scaling up of humanitarian efforts in Philippines

21 Dec 2011

image The tropical storm, known locally as Sendong, swept across Mindanao last weekend. (Photo: UN)

The United Nations relief head called today on countries and international organizations to scale up humanitarian efforts in the Philippines, which was ravaged by a storm last weekend, leaving almost half a million people in need of assistance.

“The Government responded quickly to the disaster with a wide range of national, regional and local assets,” said Valerie Amos, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. “However, the needs are huge and additional supplies and expertise are needed to rapidly scale up the response and support local capacity.”

Ms. Amos praise welcomed the Government’s decision to accept international assistance and said the international humanitarian community is responding with all of its resources at hand.

The first priority is to help those who are displaced as a result of the floods. People urgently need shelter and clean drinking water, as well as bedding, food and basic household items.

A joint Government and humanitarian country team, which included the UN Development Programme (UNDP), assessed the worst affected areas and identified water, hygiene and sanitation, emergency shelter and food as the priority needs, according to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

“The first priority is to help those who are displaced as a result of the floods. People urgently need shelter and clean drinking water, as well as bedding, food and basic household items,” said Ms. Amos. “I am allocating $3 million to kick-start some of this urgently needed help.”

The allocated funds are from the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund, a humanitarian fund that enables more timely and reliable humanitarian assistance to those affected by natural disasters and armed conflicts.  

Various UN agencies boosted their relief efforts in the country over the past few days, including the UN World Food Programme, the UN World Health Organization and the UN Children’s Fund.

The UN and partners are now revising the 2012 Humanitarian Action Plan for Mindanao so that they can support the Government in addressing the needs of those affected over the coming three months.

The tropical storm, known locally as Sendong, swept across Mindanao last weekend, killing nearly 1,000 people in massive flooding, flash floods and landslides. Some 285,000 people have been displaced, many of whom are taking refuge with relatives or in makeshift structures.