Philippines: UN agencies boost relief effort for storm survivors as death toll rises
Philippines: UN agencies boost relief effort for storm survivors as death toll rises
Residents of Mindanao, Philippines, survey damage caused by tropical storm Washi
United Nations agencies stepped up relief efforts in the Philippines today to help survivors of tropical storm Washi, which the country’s authorities say has killed nearly 1,000 people and left hundreds of thousands of residents of the island of Mindanao in need of humanitarian assistance.
The World Food Programme (WFP) said it is providing urgently needed food aid and other supplies, as well as logistical support to boost the Government’s emergency response to help people rendered destitute by the devastating floods caused by the weekend storm, also known locally as Sendong.WFP’s initial assistance includes the rapid delivery of high-energy biscuits, enough to feed more than 7,800 people in evacuation centres in the stricken cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan.
The storm swept across the Mindanao region between Friday and Sunday bringing gusty winds and heavy rains that spawned massive flash floods and landslides.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called the Philippine Foreign Minister Albert F. del Rosario to deliver his sympathies to the people and country’s Government and to express UN readiness to provide any assistance required.
The Government has accepted the offer of assistance from the international humanitarian community conveyed by the UN in the aftermath of the storm, Vanessa Huguenin, public information officer with UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told reporters in Geneva. OCHA is revising its humanitarian action plan for Mindanao to include needs resulting from the latest storm, she said.
The President of the General Assembly, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, expressed his condolences to the people and Government of the Philippines for the loss of lives and urged UN Member States and the international community as a whole to increase assistance to those affected. He also stressed the need to improve disaster preparedness across the world.
Stephen Anderson, WFP’s Country Director in the Philippines, said the agency is rapidly moving food from its warehouses in Mindanao for delivery to those made homeless by the floods.
“We are working with the Government to provide vital emergency food rations to help those who have lost their homes and belongings in areas where there has been the most extensive devastation from the flooding,” he said.
WFP’s initial assistance includes the rapid delivery of high-energy biscuits, enough to feed more than 7,800 people in evacuation centres in the stricken cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan. Additional high-energy biscuits for 65,000 people are currently being mobilized, according to an update issued by the agency.
Supplies of the nutritious ready-to-use supplementary food are also being distributed to some 15,000 children under the age of five, according to WFP.
Logistical support provided to the Government by WFP include the deployment of a mobile storage tent and delivery of water tanks, blankets, tarpaulins and tents for people who have been displaced by storm waters.
The Philippines National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported that of the 285,000 persons displaced by floods, some 43,000 are sheltered in 62 evacuation centres.
WFP voiced concern over those who remain in inaccessible areas, saying it will work closely with the Government’s Department of Social Welfare and Development and other agencies to reach them.
The official death toll rose to 957, with dozens of people still listed as missing. OCHA reported that an estimated 338,000 people had been affected by the floods.
A joint rapid assessment by UN agencies and national authorities has identified the immediate needs of those affected as food, non-food items, water sanitation and hygiene facilities and shelter.
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said it has launched an appeal for $4.2 million to assist families affected by the storm for the next three to six months, according to Marixie Mercado, the agency’s spokesperson in Geneva. Those affected by Washi include an estimated 200,000 children, she added.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that preliminary reports showed that 12 health centres in Cagayan de Oro, and 10 community health facilities in Iligan were put out of service after the storm.
Major hospitals in the two cities are still functioning and there were no major public health concern, except the risk of communicable diseases due to a lack of clean water and sanitation facilities, Tarik Jasarevic, a WHO spokesperson in Geneva, said.
Malaria and dengue fever are endemic in the flood-affected areas and WHO will send mosquito nets to evacuation centres, he added.
WHO is also working to roll out a disease surveillance system for communicable and non-communicable diseases and the training of local health workers, which had already been planned before the storm, Mr. Jasarevic said, adding that the health cluster is seeking $1.6 million to ensure that flood-affected communities continue to have access to essential public health services.
WFP Supports The Government Of The Philippines Response To Tropical Storm Washi
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is providing urgently needed food, supplies and logistics support to boost the Philippine government’s emergency response to help thousands of people whose lives have been devastated by Tropical Storm Washi, which battered Northern Mindanao over the weekend.
20 December 2011 –
ROME— The government has requested WFP to provide food assistance and other support to the worst-affected people, many of whom have no access to food and clean drinking water.
“WFP is rapidly moving food from our warehouses in Mindanao to help people who have been made homeless because of these floods,” said WFP Philippines Country Director, Stephen Anderson. “We are working with the government to provide vital emergency food rations to help those who have lost their homes and belongings in areas where there has been the most extensive devastation from the flooding.”
WFP’s initial response to date includes:
• The rapid delivery of high-energy biscuits, enough to feed more than 7,800 people in evacuation centres in the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan. Additional high-energy biscuits for 65,000 people are currently being mobilized.
• Distribution of nutritious ready-to-use supplementary food (Plumpy’ Doz) particularly targeted at 15,000 children under 5 years of age.
• Logistical support to the government’s relief effort, including the deployment of a mobile storage tent and delivery of water tanks, blankets, tarpaulins and tents for people who have been displaced by the storm waters.
According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council of the Philippines, out of the 285,000 persons displaced by floods, some 43,000 are sheltering at 62 evacuation centres. WFP is most concerned about people who still remain inaccessible and will work closely with the government’s Department of Social Welfare and Development and other agencies to reach them. The death toll has risen to 957 people, with others still missing.
About United Nations World Food Programme (WFP)
Fighting hunger worldwide
The World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide.
“In emergencies, we get food to where it is needed, saving the lives of victims of war, civil conflict and natural disasters. After the cause of an emergency has passed, we use food to help communities rebuild their shattered lives.”
WFP is part of the United Nations system and is voluntarily funded.
Born in 1961, WFP pursues a vision of the world in which every man, woman and child has access at all times to the food needed for an active and healthy life. We work towards that vision with our sister UN agencies in Rome — the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) — as well as other government, UN and NGO partners.
In 2011 we aim to reach more than 90 million people with food assistance in more than 70 countries. Around 10,000 people work for the organization, most of them in remote areas, directly serving the hungry poor.
WFP’s five objectives:
- Save lives and protect livelihoods in emergencies
- Prepare for emergencies
- Restore and rebuild lives after emergencies
- Reduce chronic hunger and undernutrition everywhere
- Strengthen the capacity of countries to reduce hunger
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WFP is the food aid arm of the United Nations system. Food aid is one of the many instruments that can help to promote food security, which is defined as access of all people at all times to the food needed for an active and healthy life. ¹ The policies governing the use of World Food Programme food aid must be oriented towards the objective of eradicating hunger and poverty. The ultimate objective of food aid should be the elimination of the need for food aid.
Targeted interventions are needed to help to improve the lives of the poorest people – people who, either permanently or during crisis periods, are unable to produce enough food or do not have the resources to otherwise obtain the food that they and their households require for active and healthy lives.
Consistent with its mandate, which also reflects the principle of universality, WFP will continue to:
- use food aid to support economic and social development;
- meet refugee and other emergency food needs, and the associated logistics support; and
- promote world food security in accordance with the recommendations of the United Nations and FAO.
The core policies and strategies that govern WFP activities are to provide food aid:
- to save lives in refugee and other emergency situations;
- to improve the nutrition and quality of life of the most vulnerable people at critical times in their lives; and
- to help build assets and promote the self-reliance of poor people and communities, particularly through labour-intensive works programmes.
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