Philippines: UN releases US$25 million to fund emergency response

11 Nov 2013

image flooded streets of Obando, Bulacan during the aftermath of Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) in 2009. UNDP is working to decrease the Filipinos vulnerability to natural hazards and increase their resilience. (Photo: Eliot Avena/UNDP Philippines)

The United Nations today announced an emergency allocation of US$25 million to fund critical relief efforts in the wake of Super Typhoon Haiyan, which carved a trail of destruction across the Central Philippines on 8 November.

Speaking at a press briefing in New York today, OCHA’s Director of Operations John Ging said that almost 9.8 million people are now believed to have been affected. He said the allocation from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) would allow agencies to respond quickly to the needs of communities across the affected region.

“We’ve all seen the pictures coming through – the scale of devastation is massive. Therefore we require the mobilization of a massive response,” he said. He added that the CERF allocation “is to enable humanitarian agencies to mobilize their response as quickly as feasible.”

Of the 9.8 million affected, the Philippines Government and the UN estimate that approximately 660,000 people have been forced from their homes. The number of casualties continues to increase with officials in Leyte Province reporting that as many as 10,000 people may have died in Tacloban City alone.

The CERF announcement comes ahead of the planned launch in Manila tomorrow of a Flash Appeal for emergency funds, at an event attended by representatives from the Government and humanitarian agencies.

Tacloban city: “There was no time to react”

In Tacloban City, Typhoon Haiyan sent a surge of sea water through low-lying barangays (neighbourhoods which reached the second floor of some buildings.

Father-of-four and local official, Melvin Tan, says that people there are used to flooding. But this time was different. “There was no time to react,” he told a UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team.

He said that within 10 minutes the water was chest-deep. On the neighbouring plot of land, where about 100 families live, people were forced to make a “human ladder” to climb over the concrete wall into Melvin’s plot. They sent babies, children and people with disabilities first.

Melvin said that the store that he owns has been ruined. All of his stock was washed away or destroyed in the flood, and he does not know if any of it was insured. He believes it will be months before he can re-open.

UN and aid teams spreading out across affected area

While the picture is becoming clearer in Tacloban City, the situation in more remote areas is still being assessed. UNDAC teams have been dispatched to the south and north of Tacloban City. Another team was also sent to Iloilo Province, to the west of Tacloban.

Residents of Iloilo’s Ajuy municipality told the team that storm surges reached up to four metres. Roads are littered with debris, making many other municipalities inaccessible.

Authorities in Negros Oriental Province have also reported significant damage to homes. In Cadiz City about 5,000 houses and nearly all corn and sugar crops were destroyed in the storm and the nearby city of Sagay was also severely affected. Shelter repair supplies are urgently needed to allow people to begin the long press of rebuilding their homes.

Unknown numbers of survivors do not have basic necessities such as food, water and medicines and remain inaccessible for relief operations, as roads, airports and bridges were destroyed or covered in wreckage.

“UN emergency response teams arrived in Tacloban city within 12 hours of the disaster. Specialist teams from member states and humanitarian agencies are committed and mobilized, and making their way to the Philipppines. They are pooling resources, food and non-food items to assist the most vulnerable people,” said Luiza Carvalho, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the Philippines.

“It is vital that we reach those who are stranded in isolated areas as they are at risk of further threats such as malnutrition, exposure to bad weather and unsafe drinking water,” she said.

Relief operations have begun including airlifting of lifesaving food, health, medical and other supplies. Available stockpiles were also released to meet immediate needs.

“We must ensure everybody including the most vulnerable - children, the sick, the elderly and the disabled areprotected from further suffering, having survived this terribly traumatic event,” said Ms Carvalho. “I want to thank Member States and the humanitarian community for their prompt response and I urge continued international assistance.”

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit http://unocha.org/.

- See more at: http://reliefweb.int/report/philippines/concern-rises-people-who-remain-cut-relief-efforts-philippines#sthash.eQXDuIMB.dpufManila, 10 November 2013): The United Nations and the humanitarian community have ramped up critical relief operations following the devastating super typhoon that hit the Philippines on 8 November. However, access remains a key challenge as some areas are still cut off from relief operations.

The Government of the Philippines in partnership with Member States has mobilized search and rescue efforts and continue to clear main roads. Relief efforts involve creating a pipeline of aid and goods distribution with deployment of relief specialists and logistic support. However travel to remote locations remains a challenge and there are areas that have not yet been reached to assess casualties and damage.

Unknown numbers of survivors do not have basic necessities such as food, water and medicines and remain inaccessible for relief operations, as roads, airports and bridges were destroyed or covered in wreckage.

“UN emergency response teams arrived in Tacloban city within 12 hours of the disaster. Specialist teams from member states and humanitarian agencies are committed and mobilized, and making their way to the Philipppines. They are pooling resources, food and non-food items to assist the most vulnerable people,” said Luiza Carvalho, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the Philippines.

“It is vital that we reach those who are stranded in isolated areas as they are at risk of further threats such as malnutrition, exposure to bad weather and unsafe drinking water,” she said.

Relief operations have begun including airlifting of lifesaving food, health, medical and other supplies. Available stockpiles were also released to meet immediate needs.

“We must ensure everybody including the most vulnerable - children, the sick, the elderly and the disabled areprotected from further suffering, having survived this terribly traumatic event,” said Ms Carvalho. “I want to thank Member States and the humanitarian community for their prompt response and I urge continued international assistance.”
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit http://unocha.org/.
- See more at: http://reliefweb.int/report/philippines/concern-rises-people-who-remain-cut-relief-efforts-philippines#sthash.eQXDuIMB.dpuf