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Philippines: France's Hollande visits typhoon-hit Philippine town

27 February 2015 - 7:19am
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: France, Philippines, World

Guiuan, Philippines | AFP | Friday 2/27/2015 - 12:01 GMT

by Hervé ASQUIN

French President Francois Hollande met survivors of one of the world's strongest typhoons in a remote Philippine coastal town on Friday, seeking to sound a global alarm on climate change ahead of a crucial UN summit.

Hollande is on a two-day trip to the Southeast Asian archipelago, regarded as a frontline state in the struggle against global warming, as part of his campaign to build diplomatic momentum ahead of the Paris summit in December.

The French president is determined to broker an historic pact in Paris to save the world from catastrophic impacts of climate change, and he went to the storm-battered Philippines to highlight those feared consequences.

"My visit is not only as president of the Republic of France, but also as a member of the international community which is mobilising to succeed at the Paris summit," Hollande said in Guiuan in the far east of the Philippines.

The small fishing community of Guiuan was one of the first towns hit when Super Typhoon Haiyan roared in from the Pacific Ocean 15 months ago with the strongest winds ever recorded on land.

Haiyan then swept across already deeply impoverished farming and fishing communities of the central Philippines, leaving more than 7,350 dead or missing in the world's deadliest natural disaster of 2013.

The Philippines endures about 20 major storms or typhoons every year but scientists say they are getting stronger and more unpredictable because of climate change, and that this will likely mean more Haiyan-like disasters.

In Guiuan, Hollande met fishermen who lost their homes during Haiyan, walked past the remains of a destroyed church and spoke at an elementary school with a roof still missing after being torn off during the typhoon.

"I'm here with you, in Guiuan, to show the entire world the devastation from the typhoon you have suffered," he said.

Forty-year-old fisherman Jessie Bisaya said he was awestruck when Hollande shook his hand next to a seaside row of shanties where he lives.

"I've never seen a foreign leader before. We are happy and honoured that he visited our town,” Bisaya told AFP from his cramped home made entirely out of tarpaulin that he shares with eight other family members.

"Life has been tough since Yolanda (Haiyan). We have not fully recovered. It can get really hot inside this house and we sleep packed like sardines."

Hollande, the first French head of state to visit the Philippines, brought a high-profile delegation with him, including French actresses Marion Cotillard and Melanie Laurent.

The Hollywood stars, as well as Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, travelled with him to Guiuan.

  • Joint appeal -

In a joint appeal for climate change action in Manila on Thursday, Hollande and Philippine President Aquino emphasised that Filipinos had "endured an unprecedented series of extreme weather events in the last few years".

The main message in their appeal was for world leaders to secure a "universal, equitable and ambitious climate deal" in Paris to contain climate change.

Hollande presented the appeal as a show of unity that could serve as a model in the lead-up to Paris for rich and poor nations, whose divisions led to a similar effort at a UN summit in Copenhagen in 2009 ending in disarray.

The goal of the planned Paris pact, which must enter into force by 2020, is to limit warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial Revolution levels.

Scientists warn that on current trends, Earth is on track for double that or more -- a recipe for catastrophic droughts, fiercer storms like Haiyan and other extreme weather events.

  • Aid -

Hollande emphasised on Thursday that a Paris accord could not succeed unless rich nations generously and adequately helped developing nations cope with climate change and build clean energy infrastructure.

After meeting Hollande, Aquino praised France's leadership in the global warming fight, emphasising that its emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming were among the lowest of any developed nation.

"We, as a developing country, welcome that countries like France have emerged as global partners," Aquino said.

In Guiuan, Hollande announced 1.5 million euros ($1.7 million) in aid for the French non-government organisation ACTED to help local storm-vulnerable communities in the Philippines.

This followed a pledge from Hollande on Thursday of 50 million euros ($56 million) in loans to help prevent future weather-related disasters in the Philippines.

ha-kma/kb

© 1994-2015 Agence France-Presse

Philippines: Philippines: Supporting displaced families in central Mindanao

27 February 2015 - 6:58am
Source: International Committee of the Red Cross Country: Philippines

Manila (ICRC) – Around 4,000 families displaced by the recent fighting between armed groups in central Mindanao are being assisted by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Philippine Red Cross (PRC).

It is almost a month since people in the affected communities started to flee from their homes. Some have sought shelter in temporary evacuation centres, while others have been staying with relatives, in Pikit, North Cotabato, or in Pagalungan, Maguindanao.

"We left our homes because we feared for our lives. The fighting was less than a kilometre away from where we lived. The evacuation centre was already crowded, so my family and I had to sleep on the ground under a tree. We left all our belongings at home," says 48-year-old Muhammad Impus from Barangay Kalbugan in Pagalungan.

On 25 and 26 February, the ICRC and the PRC distributed two weeks' worth of food rations, along with hygiene kits, tarpaulins and jerry cans, to 1,696 families, or around 8,000 people, in Pagalungan.

"This will supplement the assistance being provided by the authorities. We will make a similar delivery of relief items to 2,275 displaced families in Pikit," explains Maria Carmen Echezarreta Inurritegui, head of the ICRC office in Cotabato.

Every day, as from today, the ICRC will truck 28,000 litres of clean drinking water provided by the Pikit Water District to two evacuation centres in Pagalungan.

As it is important that health facilities in areas affected by armed violence are able to treat wounded people, the ICRC provides regular support for five hospitals in Mindanao. In central Mindanao they are the Cotabato Provincial Hospital and the Dr. Amado Diaz Provincial Hospital, both in North Cotabato, and the Maguindanao Provincial Hospital.

The ICRC will continue to closely monitor the humanitarian situation in the provinces of North Cotabato and Maguindanao and, together with the PRC, it remains committed to assisting vulnerable people in need of support.

The ICRC is a neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian organization, whose mandate is to protect and assist victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence. In Mindanao, it has offices in the cities of Davao, Zamboanga, Cotabato and Bislig.

For further information, please contact:

Allison Lopez, ICRC Manila, tel: +63 908 868 6884 Wolde-Gabriel Saugeron, ICRC Manila, tel: +63 918 907 2125

Philippines: Philippines: Typhoon Hagupit (Revised EPoA) DREF Operation n° MDRPH016

27 February 2015 - 3:25am
Source: International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies Country: Philippines

A. Situation update

On 13 December 2014, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) allocated CHF 256,267 from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to support the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) in responding to the emergency and relief needs of people affected by Typhoon Hagupit (locally known as Ruby), which struck Central Philippines on the 6th December 2014. Specifically, the assistance to be provided entailed provision of emergency food items, essential non-food household items (blankets, jerry cans, mosquito nets and sleeping mats) and hygiene kits, and provision of tarpaulins to meet emergency shelter needs.

Hot meals and emergency food rations would be procured locally in the affected provinces as markets were found to be functioning and with adequate supplies of essential food items, while non-food items would be mobilized from disaster preparedness stocks. Since disaster preparedness stocks that were available in the PRC warehouses were being released for immediate distribution, the DREF allocation would help to ensure that such stocks were replenished in order to safeguard the National Society’s capacity to respond to future potential disasters.

Two months on, the PRC’s intervention continues. Up to 52,000 individuals who sought shelter in evacuation centres were served with hot meals while already some 24,300 affected households have been provided with food rations. Through the collective support provided by its various partners, the National Society has distributed blankets to more than 14,000 households, jerry cans to some 4,500 households, hygiene kits to more than 9,000 households, mosquito nets to more than 11,000 households, sleeping mats to some 13,000 households and tarpaulins to some 7,400 households

In particular, the assistance that the PRC has provided utilizing the DREF allocation is focusing on the provinces of Agusan del Sur, Masbate, Northern Samar, Sorsogon and Surigao del Norte. Distributions are by large completed although they continue in areas where there were secondary impacts by Tropical Storm Jangmi (local name Seniang), which struck regions that were affected by Typhoon Hagupit during the last week of December 2014. In Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Norte, distributions could not be completed within the original schedule due to the Tropical Storm Jangmi.

Following real-time assessments conducted alongside completed or ongoing distributions, the National Society is providing hygiene kits, nonfood items and tarpaulins in quantities that are different from what was initially projected. Real time assessments, including consultations with people affected by Typhoon Hagupit, revealed a greater need for hygiene kits and jerry cans. As a result, this update adjusts some lines within the budget that were outlined in the DREF Operation Bulletin to include hygiene kits and realign quantities of other items with what have been distributed . Under the DREF operation, at least 7,000 households are targeted with food rations, a total of 3,135 households with hygiene kits and non-food items and 500 households with tarpaulins.

Furthermore, because distribution of hygiene kits and non-food items is still underway in Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Norte — dispatch of the items to these two provinces was delayed owing to the impact of Tropical Storm Jangmi in the last week of December 2014 running into January 2015 — this update also extends the operation’s timeframe by one month, i.e. until 30 April 2015. The extension is to allow for adequate time to undertake post-distribution surveys in the five provinces covered by the operation as well as to allow for the receipt of hygiene kits and mosquito nets incountry. Hygiene kits, mosquito nets and tarpaulins, for replenishment of PRC’s disaster preparedness stocks, are being procured from outside the Philippines via the IFRC zone logistics unit (ZLU) based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Philippines: Haiyan One Year On - Humanitarian Aid at Risk?

26 February 2015 - 5:07pm
Source: United Nations, Red Cross EU Office Country: Philippines

Overview

On 8 November 2013 the lives of millions of people in the Philippines were changed as Typhoon Haiyan made landfall in the country. The natural disaster killed 6,300 people and left 4 million displaced. The assistance of numerous local and international actors was required to restore the livelihoods of the total 16 million individuals affected. The European Commission alone allocated € 43.6 million to address the humanitarian and development impacts of the emergency.

On 7 October 2014, 11 months after Typhoon Haiyan struck, the Red Cross EU Office, VOICE and UN organised a panel discussion to consider the international community’s response to the disaster and analyse future challenges for cooperation. Hosted at the European Parliament by MEP Goerens, member of the assembly’s Development Committee, the event saw the participation of officials from the European Parliament, European Commission, United Nations, Red Cross EU Office, ICRC, ACT Alliance/ICCO and VOICE.

Philippines: Haiyan One Year On - Humanitarian Aid at Risk?

26 February 2015 - 5:07pm
Source: United Nations, Red Cross EU Office Country: Philippines

Overview

On 8 November 2013 the lives of millions of people in the Philippines were changed as Typhoon Haiyan made landfall in the country. The natural disaster killed 6,300 people and left 4 million displaced. The assistance of numerous local and international actors was required to restore the livelihoods of the total 16 million individuals affected. The European Commission alone allocated € 43.6 million to address the humanitarian and development impacts of the emergency.

On 7 October 2014, 11 months after Typhoon Haiyan struck, the Red Cross EU Office, VOICE and UN organised a panel discussion to consider the international community’s response to the disaster and analyse future challenges for cooperation. Hosted at the European Parliament by MEP Goerens, member of the assembly’s Development Committee, the event saw the participation of officials from the European Parliament, European Commission, United Nations, Red Cross EU Office, ICRC, ACT Alliance/ICCO and VOICE.

Philippines: While recovery efforts are expanding, acute humanitarian needs remain in affected areas

26 February 2015 - 5:04pm
Source: Red Cross EU Office Country: Philippines

In the Philippines, isolated and disadvantaged communites who survived Typhoon Haiyan are still in need of relief aid. Larger response gaps persist in Western Leyte, which requires more attention than Tacloban and surrounding municipalities. Food distributions are ongoing and remain a priority need. Food prices remain inflated and thousands of people still don’t have the financial means to buy food or have sufficient access to markets. As the emergency phase transitions into early recovery, increasing emphasis is being placed on cash for work and cash transfer programmes. The Philippines Red Cross and the IFRC operation to distribute non-food relief continues to be scaled up as thousands of survivors have lost their household possessions. Hygiene kits, mosquito nets, jerry cans and shelter kits are still distributed on a regular basis (Download Operation Update infographic 13 February 2015).

Aside, disease prevention and ensuring access to clean water, adequate sanitation and medical services are a top priority for the Red Cross. The Philippines Red Cross continues to run first aid posts and Emergency Response Unit from Canada, Norway and Japan offer basic health care in the affected areas focussing on maternity care, the treatment of typhoon-related injuries and chronic conditions e.g. high blood pressure, diabetes etc. According to the Health Cluster, diarrhoea cases have been rising in several areas of Ormoc and Leyte since 30 November. Several samples have tested positive for rotavirus. Humanitarian organisations are concerned that response capacity would be insufficient in case of outbreaks.

Support for self-recovery is fast becoming the priority

Repairing or re-building housing and helping to restore people’s lost livelihoods is a significant part of the Red Cross recovery programme. While emergency shelter materials such as tarpaulins are still needed, support for self-recovery is fast becoming the priority. The vast majority of families have already started rebuilding and repairing their homes, however most of them require help. We provide shelter and tool kits to support that process. The focus is not only on providing materials but also on technical help to ensure homes are built back safer and stronger. The Government has begun constructing bunkhouses for people living in evacuation centres or informal settlements.

The typhoon hit people’s livelihoods hard and agricultural communities were among the worst affected. Farmers, especially those who rely on coconut plantations and rice for their income, saw their crops and trees wiped out. Cash transfer programmes are vital to kick-start these economies again and enable them to buy materials to rebuild their homes and buy seeds for the next planting season, such as rice crop, which is currently happening. Unconditional cash grants supported by IFRC began on 12 December 2015 on Panay Island and Leyte province. The distribution of 50,000 cash grants is planned before the end of the year.

Philippines: While recovery efforts are expanding, acute humanitarian needs remain in affected areas

26 February 2015 - 5:04pm
Source: Red Cross EU Office Country: Philippines

In the Philippines, isolated and disadvantaged communites who survived Typhoon Haiyan are still in need of relief aid. Larger response gaps persist in Western Leyte, which requires more attention than Tacloban and surrounding municipalities. Food distributions are ongoing and remain a priority need. Food prices remain inflated and thousands of people still don’t have the financial means to buy food or have sufficient access to markets. As the emergency phase transitions into early recovery, increasing emphasis is being placed on cash for work and cash transfer programmes. The Philippines Red Cross and the IFRC operation to distribute non-food relief continues to be scaled up as thousands of survivors have lost their household possessions. Hygiene kits, mosquito nets, jerry cans and shelter kits are still distributed on a regular basis (Download Operation Update infographic 13 February 2015).

Aside, disease prevention and ensuring access to clean water, adequate sanitation and medical services are a top priority for the Red Cross. The Philippines Red Cross continues to run first aid posts and Emergency Response Unit from Canada, Norway and Japan offer basic health care in the affected areas focussing on maternity care, the treatment of typhoon-related injuries and chronic conditions e.g. high blood pressure, diabetes etc. According to the Health Cluster, diarrhoea cases have been rising in several areas of Ormoc and Leyte since 30 November. Several samples have tested positive for rotavirus. Humanitarian organisations are concerned that response capacity would be insufficient in case of outbreaks.

Support for self-recovery is fast becoming the priority

Repairing or re-building housing and helping to restore people’s lost livelihoods is a significant part of the Red Cross recovery programme. While emergency shelter materials such as tarpaulins are still needed, support for self-recovery is fast becoming the priority. The vast majority of families have already started rebuilding and repairing their homes, however most of them require help. We provide shelter and tool kits to support that process. The focus is not only on providing materials but also on technical help to ensure homes are built back safer and stronger. The Government has begun constructing bunkhouses for people living in evacuation centres or informal settlements.

The typhoon hit people’s livelihoods hard and agricultural communities were among the worst affected. Farmers, especially those who rely on coconut plantations and rice for their income, saw their crops and trees wiped out. Cash transfer programmes are vital to kick-start these economies again and enable them to buy materials to rebuild their homes and buy seeds for the next planting season, such as rice crop, which is currently happening. Unconditional cash grants supported by IFRC began on 12 December 2015 on Panay Island and Leyte province. The distribution of 50,000 cash grants is planned before the end of the year.

Malaysia: Dengue Situation Update 459, 24 February 2015

26 February 2015 - 4:31pm
Source: World Health Organization Country: Australia, Cambodia, China, French Polynesia (France), Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore

Update on the dengue situation in the Western Pacific Region

Northern Hemisphere

China

The cumulative number of reported dengue cases in 2014 was 47,331. This is about ten times and eighty times higher compared with the number in 2013 and 2012 respectively due to the dengue outbreak in Guangdong in end of 2014. In January 2015, 19 dengue cases were reported. This number is one-tenth of the previous month (December 2015), and almost the same as the same period in 2013 and 2012 (Figure 1).

Malaysia

As of 14 February 2015, the total number of dengue cases reported in Malaysia in 2015 is higher than for the same period in the previous year (58% increase compared to 2014) (Figure 2).

Cumulative of cases reported 2015: 18,351
Cumulative deaths reported 2015: 52

Philippines

As of 24 January 2015, the total number of cases reported in Philippines is decreasing in this 3 weeks, and the cumulative number of reported cases in 2015 is 40% lower than for the same period in 2014 (Figure 3).

Cumulative of cases reported 2015: 3,575
Cumulative deaths reported 2015: 9

World: UNEP Head Joins State Visit by French President to Philippines to Spotlight Need for Urgent Action on Climate Change

26 February 2015 - 4:29am
Source: UN Environment Programme Country: Philippines, World

UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner is joining a French delegation to the Philippines, led by President François Hollande, to highlight the fight against climate change and convene a forum intended to encourage faster and more determined action on the global challenge of climate change, ahead of the UNFCCC Climate Change talks in Paris later this year.

The French President is accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, Laurent Fabius, Minister of State for Development and Francophony, Annick Girardin, and Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, Ségolène Royal.

Also accompanying Mr Hollande are high-level officials from various international organizations including the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, Christiana Figueres, Director General of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Inger Andersen, and Director General of WWF International, Marco Lambertini.

A number of leading personalities well-known for their environmental activism are lending their support to the event, including Patriarch Bartholomew I of the Orthodox Church and Hollywood actors Jeremy Irons, Marion Cotillard, Mélanie Laurent. Business leaders and representatives from various French higher education institutions will also be travelling with the delegation.

A forum, themed ‘Towards COP21: Civil Society Mobilized for the Climate”, on Thursday will be opened by the President of the Philippines, Benigno Aquino III and President Hollande, who are to sign the Manila Call to Action on Climate Change.

The call to action and the forum are both designed to encourage global support for the climate agreement set to be finalized at talks in Paris later this year.

Mr Steiner is to deliver an intervention during the forum, focusing on building resilience to climate change, the funding required for this purpose and the opportunities that a low-carbon Green Economy can offer.

“With this historic initiative, France — the host of the 2015 crucial UN Climate Change Conference— and the Philippines, which chairs the forum for countries most drastically affected by climate change, are demonstrating the leadership and solidarity that are required to deliver to the world a robust and ambitious climate change agreement in Paris later this year,” said Mr. Steiner.

“The visit to typhoon hit locations is a reminder that without further action to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the cost of building resilience will soar even further as wider and more expensive action will be needed to protect communities from the intensifying impacts of climate change, ” said Mr. Steiner.

According to a recent report by UNEP, even if global greenhouse gas emissions are cut to the level required to keep global temperature rise below 2°C this century, the cost of adapting to climate change in developing countries is likely to reach two to three times the previous estimates of US $70-100 billion per year by 2050.

Despite adaptation funding by public sources US $23-26 billion in 2012-2013, there will be a significant funding gap after 2020 unless new and additional finance for adaptation is made available.

Mr. Steiner added:

“The good news is that a global shift to green economies is already underway. Globally, more than 65 countries have embarked on national initiatives to green their economies, reframing economic policy around sustainability and committing to bringing the finance and investment needed to reshape and reconfigure their economies. Global investment in renewable power and fuels (excluding large hydro-electric projects) was US $279.2 billion and grew by nearly 17% in 2014 compared to 2013.”

“Debating the economics of our response to climate change and the concrete actions that must be reflected in the new climate agreement must become more honest. We owe it to ourselves but also to the next generation, as it is they who will have to foot the bill," he said.

In recent years, UNEP has embarked on an Inquiry into the Design of a Sustainable Financial System which is geared toward examining the contours of sustainable financial reforms and initiatives, that now have to be brought together to achieve transformational change, along the following lines:

· Building credible sustainable finance policy frameworks.

· Broadening responsibilities and deepening risk management.

· Re-balancing asset allocation and scaling up new markets.

· Improving accountability and transparency along the investment chain.

· Building financial cultures and competencies aligned to sustainability.

The Inquiry is currently working in upwards of 20 countries, including several in the region, such as Bangladesh, China, India, and Indonesia.

Mr. Steiner also said, “It is indeed becoming to have this influential gathering of leaders here in the Philippines to amplify the need for action on climate change. As well as being one of the fastest growing economies in Asia, the Philippines, under the leadership of President Aquino III, has become a prominent green economy and renewable energy pioneer, helping lead the way towards a cleaner and more resilient future in Asia and beyond.”

Today, the Philippines is the second largest geothermal producer in the world. Recent reports indicate its having the largest potential for wind power in South East Asia; the largest solar manufacturing hub in South East Asia; and good potential for both mini-hydro and biomass sources of energy. Such potential will provide opportunities for the country to shift from fossil fuel sources to clean, renewable energy forms.

Since 2008, on the introduction of the Renewable Energy Act, the Philippines has achieved a 59 % energy self-sufficiency and has signed 206 renewable energy contracts. In addition, the Philippines Government expects to further develop infrastructure to enable increased investment in renewable and alternative energy development projects.

Notes to Editors:

· According to UNEP’s Fifth Emissions Gap Report 2014:

In order to limit global temperature rise to 2°C and head off the worst impacts of climate change, global carbon neutrality should be attained by mid-to-late century. This would also keep in check the maximum amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) that can be emitted into the atmosphere while staying within safe temperature limits beyond 2020.

Exceeding an estimated budget of just 1,000 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide (Gt CO2) would increase the risk of severe, pervasive, and in some cases irreversible climate change impacts.

The report examines whether the pledges made by countries are on track to meet the internationally agreed under 2°C target. It is produced by 38 leading scientists from 22 research groups across 14 countries.

More at: http://www.unep.org/newscentre/default.aspx?DocumentID=2812&ArticleID=11082#sthash.DwPk0nY5.dpuf

· On the significance of the trip to the Philippines and UNEP’s work

The Philippines — a country prone to multiple climate change-induced disasters from cyclones and floods to rising sea level – was one of the first signatories of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992 and the Kyoto Protocol in 1997.

A National Climate Change Action Plan for the Philippines was developed to address adaptation and mitigation measures, with focus on seven priority areas: food security, water sufficiency, environmental and ecological stability, human security, sustainable energy, climate-smart industries and services, knowledge and capacity building.

UNEP, in cooperation with the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), provides support to the Climate Change Commission and partners to develop nationally appropriate Mitigation Action for the building sector in the Philippines in order to strengthen energy efficiency and reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions across the sector.

Under the Southeast Asia Network of Climate Change Focal Points (SEAN-CC) UNEP has supported the Philippines in the training on mitigation assessment tools. UNEP is also a partner in a programme that aims to strengthen the country’s capacity to adapt to climate change.

It is significant that the Philippines currently chairs the Vulnerable Countries’ Forum, a grouping of some 20 countries from Asia, Africa and Latin America, that are said to be the most drastically affected by climate change.

Following the recent Typhoon Yolanda, the UNEP/OCHA joint unit deployed immediately and provided support on the oil spill and disaster waste management issues.

UNEP has also been engaging with the Philippines to initiate possible field interventions for ecosystem-based approaches to disaster risk reduction in the country.

For more information and 24 hour response, please contact UNEP Press Office:

Shereen Zorba, Head, News and Media, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Cel:+254 788 526000, Cel:+254 713601259 , Tel: +254-20 762 5022, shereen.zorba@unep.org

Agathe Hume, Department of Communication & Public Information, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Tel: +254-20 762 5430, agathe.hume@unep.org (French speaking)

Hugh Searight, Division of Communication and Public Information, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), tel: +254205126737, cell:+254726705561, hugh.searight@unep.org

Philippines: Red Cross to extend necessary assistance in ongoing MILF-BIFF clashes

25 February 2015 - 11:09pm
Source: Philippine National Red Cross Country: Philippines

The Philippine Red Cross, as the foremost humanitarian organization, is ready to extend assistance to the people displaced by the clashes between Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters along the border of North Cotabato and Maguindanao provinces.

The clashes started last Feb. 3 and have already led to the displacement of some 20,000 residents from at least two barangays in Pagalungan town and seven barangays in Pikit town.

“Humanity, impartiality and neutrality are among the seven The Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross. We do not take sides in hostilities and we give assistance without discrimination to the wounded on the battlefield. In the Red Cross, we alleviate human suffering without any distinction as to nationality, race, religious beliefs, class or political opinions,” PRC Chairman Richard J. Gordon said.

Gordon disclosed that to help them cope with their grief, the PRC provided stress debriefing and other welfare services to the bereaved family of the members of the Philippine National Police – Special Action Force who were killed in an encounter in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan 25.

He said a total of 28 staff and volunteers, divided into two groups, were mobilized and deployed to Camp Bagong Diwa and to Camp Dangwa in Benguet Province despite the tight security, particularly in the former.

“Our teams extended welfare assistance to the family members when the remains of the SAF 44 arrived at the Villamor Airbase in Pasay City and when they were brought to Camp Bagong Diwa and likewise in Camp Dangwa. Our teams provided crisis intervention to help the family members cope with the situation and helped them overcome their grief,” the chairman said.

Aside from psychosocial support and crisis intervention, other services extended included: needs assessment; facilitating inquiry and communication to contact other family members they had difficulty contacting; and providing information to some relatives on how to obtain necessary documents to access the Benefits and Claims they are entitled to: and offered to assist in obtaining the documents if necessary.

Gordon said the Red Cross also deployed two ambulances – one in Camp Bagong Diwa and one in Camp Dangwa – and administered first aid to a relative who lost consciousness in Benguet. He added the Red Cross teams also distributed bottled water and biscuits during the wake.

“The presence of our teams there showed that we, in the Red Cross, care and are ready to help,” the Red Cross official said as he commended the teams for a job well done.

Gordon further disclosed that the Red Cross also provided assistance to the wounded in the Jan. 25 encounter.

In a related development, Red Cross Cotabato Chapter Administrator Ricardo Quintayo said they were mobilizing their resources in the Chapter to help the displaced persons to supplement the aid already provided by the local government, however, the displaced persons moved back to their homes immediately the day after the encounter.

Philippines: Philippines: Post-typhoon resettlement plan carries risks

25 February 2015 - 10:53pm
Source: Refugees International Country: Philippines

In November 2013, the strongest typhoon on record tore a path of destruction across the central Philippines, displacing four million people. In the disaster’s wake, the government adopted an ambitious plan to relocate 200,000 households away from at-risk coastal areas and resettle them out of harm’s way. While well-intentioned as a strategy to mitigate displacement from future typhoons and climate change, observations to date suggest that without sufficient planning and safeguards, government-led resettlement is a highly risky undertaking that threatens to prolong displacement and leave affected populations more, not less, vulnerable.

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS:

•Resettling populations as a strategy to mitigate displacement from disasters is a complex process that requires substantial advance planning and resources on both the national and local level. Without sufficient planning and safeguards, policies that restrict the right of displaced populations to return pending resettlement are likely to prolong displacement, infringe on displaced persons’ legal and human rights, and increase their vulnerability.

•Governments wishing to undertake post-disaster resettlement must have in place national legal frameworks that protect the rights of those affected. They must also establish institutional arrangements for implementing resettlement that include clearly articulated roles and responsibilities between central, provincial, and local authorities.

•Where governments decide to resettle displaced people in the aftermath of disasters, international humanitarian agencies engaged in disaster response must put in place transitional shelter and protection strategies to protect internally displaced people during the resettlement process, and work with government counter-parts and development agencies to implement them.

•In post-disaster contexts, both governments and international humanitarian and development agencies must collaborate to develop more inclusive, innovative, and flexible shelter/resettlement responses that go beyond physically relocating people to empty plots of land.

Alice Thomas traveled to the Philippine islands of Leyte and Samar to assess the humanitarian response to Typhoon Haiyan in February and November 2014. She interviewed affected individuals, Philippine and donor government officials, UN officials, and representatives of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, international non-government organizations, and local civil society organizations.

Philippines: Aquino urges autonomy for Philippine Muslims despite misgivings

25 February 2015 - 3:36pm
Source: Reuters - AlertNet Country: Philippines

By Manuel Mogato

MANILA, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Philippine President Benigno Aquino called on Wednesday for autonomy for a Muslim region to end an insurgency there despite widespread misgivings after Muslim rebels killed 44 policemen.

Aquino has promised the largest Muslim rebel group in the predominantly Christian country autonomy in the southern region known as Bangsamoro in exchange for peace.

read the full story here

World: Disasters in Asia and the Pacific: 2014 Year in Review

25 February 2015 - 7:04am
Source: UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific Country: Afghanistan, China, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Solomon Islands, Tonga, World

ABSTRACT

This study on “Disasters in Asia and the Pacific: 2014 Year in review”, developed by the Information and Communications Technology and Disaster Risk Reduction Division of ESCAP, provides an overview of natural disasters in the Asia-Pacific region and its impacts. Although there were no major disasters in 2014, over half of the world’s natural disasters occurred in the region. Hydro-meteorological hazards were the most frequent, causing most fatalities and economic losses. The study considers lessons which show that building resilience to disasters remains a key priority and areas in need of urgent attention, namely strengthening existing regional cooperative mechanisms for cyclone/typhoon early warning, establishing regional cooperative mechanisms for transboundary floods and landslides, utilizing innovative technologies for disaster assessment and addressing slow-onset disasters.

World: Disasters in Asia and the Pacific: 2014 Year in Review

25 February 2015 - 7:04am
Source: UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific Country: Afghanistan, China, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Solomon Islands, Thailand, Tonga, World

ABSTRACT

This study on “Disasters in Asia and the Pacific: 2014 Year in review”, developed by the Information and Communications Technology and Disaster Risk Reduction Division of ESCAP, provides an overview of natural disasters in the Asia-Pacific region and its impacts. Although there were no major disasters in 2014, over half of the world’s natural disasters occurred in the region. Hydro-meteorological hazards were the most frequent, causing most fatalities and economic losses. The study considers lessons which show that building resilience to disasters remains a key priority and areas in need of urgent attention, namely strengthening existing regional cooperative mechanisms for cyclone/typhoon early warning, establishing regional cooperative mechanisms for transboundary floods and landslides, utilizing innovative technologies for disaster assessment and addressing slow-onset disasters.

Philippines: Malacanang still sees MILF as partner in peace process

24 February 2015 - 12:21pm
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

MANILA, Feb. 25 -- The Palace said it remains hopeful that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) would stick to its commitment to peace, despite the bloody Mamasapano clash and the delay in the deliberations of the Bangsamoro Basic Law by Congress.

Congress has to complete the deliberations on the BBL at the committee level before adjourning on March 20, and resume deliberations at the plenary level when sessions resume on May 4.

In a press briefing in Malacañang on Tuesday, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said President Benigno S. Aquino III and his administration still consider the MILF as a government partner in achieving peace.

During those periods, there was no violent clash between government and MILF combatants, according to Coloma.

The government will stick to that position, but in case there are groups that will sow instability, the country's security forces are ready to act to maintain order, he added.

It can be recalled that after the Supreme Court declared the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) unconstitutional in 2008, the MILF attacked several communities in Mindanao.

Coloma said it is up to legislators to follow the initial timetable for the approval of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, considering the narrowing window of opportunity for its passage. (PCOO/PND (as)

World: Global Emergency Overview Snapshot 18–24 February 2015

24 February 2015 - 10:26am
Source: Assessment Capacities Project Country: Afghanistan, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guatemala, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, India, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Pakistan, Philippines, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Uganda, Ukraine, World, Yemen

Snapshot 18-24 February 2015

Myanmar: 90,000 people are now reported to have been displaced by continuing violence between government troops and multiple armed groups in Kokang, Shan state. Aid organisations have been subject to attack – seven people were wounded in two separate incidents.

Kenya: The number of cholera cases has risen in the past week to 644, from 186. The outbreak was declared in Homa Bay, Migori, and Nairobi counties on 13 February. 17 people have died, most in Migori, and there are fears that the outbreak will spread due to the lack of safe drinking water.

Nigeria: 564 cholera cases have been reported in Nigeria since January, with a fatality of rate of 8.3%. There has been a resurgence of cases in Kano and Kaduna states. In Borno state, the Nigerian military claims to have taken back Baga, Monguno, and ten other communities from Boko Haram.

Updated: 24/02/2015. Next update: 03/03/2015

Global Emergency Overview Web Interface

Philippines: Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) Operation Update (as of February 13, 2015)

23 February 2015 - 11:57pm
Source: Philippine National Red Cross Country: Philippines

World: Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Positions (23 February 2015)

23 February 2015 - 10:10pm
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Haiti, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Pakistan, Philippines, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Ukraine, World, Yemen

Philippines: Red Cross rolls out third batch of CGI sheets for Yolanda affected provinces

23 February 2015 - 7:50am
Source: Philippine National Red Cross Country: Philippines

Manila -- The Philippine Red Cross will be sending out the third batch of corrugated galvanized iron (CGI) sheets today for four Yolanda affected provinces, namely Palawan, Iloilo, Tacloban, and Cebu to aid in the rehabilitation efforts in the said provinces. More than 152,000 CGI sheets will depart from the PRC national headquarters in Manila bound to Coron, Palawan by midnight today.

According to PRC Chairman Richard Gordon, the arrival of this new batch of CGI crates in provinces affected by Yolanda reflects the PRC’s continuous commitment to the rehabilitation efforts post Yolanda. “Our shelter program continues with the shipment of these CGI sheets which will be used to build more homes for survivors of typhoon Yolanda,” said Gordon.

Of the total 152,032 CGI sheets, 45,975 will go to Tacloban, Leyte, 46,675 to Iloilo, 17,400 will be going to Coron, Palawan, and 41,982 will be bound to Cebu. The crates will first go to Coron, Palawan, followed by Iloilo, Tacloban, and Cebu.

Philippines: Asia and the Pacific: Weekly Regional Humanitarian Snapshot (17 - 23 Feb 2015)

23 February 2015 - 4:37am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Australia, Bangladesh, Japan, Myanmar, Philippines

MYANMAR

Fighting that broke out on 9 Feb between the Government of Myanmar Army and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and other armed groups has continued in the Kokang self-administered zone, northeast Shan State.

On 17 Feb the Myanmar Government declared a State of Emergency and martial law for 90 days. Also on 17 Feb, two Myanmar Red Cross Society (MRCS) volunteers were injured when a MRCS convoy transporting civilians out of the conflict area came under fire. Another incident involving a MRCS convoy carrying civilians and journalists occurred on 21 Feb, in which five people were wounded. The Chinese Foreign Ministry has confirmed that civilians have been displaced across the border and assistance is being provided, but numbers are still unconfirmed. An unconfirmed number of civilians are reported to be displaced along the border area within the Kokang region.

Information on the situation remains limited, as humanitarian access to the area of conflict remains restricted.

PHILIPPINES

On 9 Feb, feuding between families reportedly associated with the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front triggered an armed encounter in Pagalungan municipality, Maguindanao province. Fighting spread to the nearby municipality of Datu Montawal and caused insecurity in Pikit municipality, North Cotabato province. As of 19 Feb, the incidents displaced about 24,300 people, of which an estimated 13,400 people staying in 20 evacuation centres while 10,900 are hosted by relatives or friends, according to local authorities and humanitarian partners.
WASH, food, non-food items and emergency shelter are priority needs according to assessments conducted by IOM, CFSI, Plan International, UNHCR and OCHA. Local authorities continue to monitor the situation and provide assistance to those affected. The Mindanao Humanitarian Team is standing by to support local authorities.

24,300 people displaced

AUSTRALIA

Two major storms hit Australia, damaging homes, disrupting power supplies and forcing evacuations in coastal areas on 18 - 19 Feb. Cyclone Marcia hit Queensland, leaving 1,500 homes damaged and many without power.
The State Emergency Service responded to more than 6,000 requests for help in Queensland since Marcia crossed the coast. Australian soldiers were deployed to help clean up widespread damage in coastal areas. Immediate personal hardship assistance for individuals or families will be made available by local authorities.

1,500 homes damaged

Tropical Cyclone Lam hit remote communities in the Northern Territory, approximately 500km east of Darwin. Heavy rains caused flooding in low-lying areas and Territory emergency services and local emergency plans were activated. National authorities noted that this is the first time that two severe cyclones occurred at the same time.

BANGLADESH

Violence continues due to the continued countrywide blockade and Hartal (shutdown) called by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) led 20-party alliance. Major protests are linked to calls in Jan 2014 for general elections by a neutral temporal caretaker government.
This was rejected by the ruling party and the opposition boycotted the election which led to an unchallenged victory. A tense political atmosphere continues.

JAPAN

A magnitude 6.9 and 6.1 earthquake struck off the northeast coast on 17 Feb triggering a tsunami advisory and evacuation warning in coastal towns. There were some changes in tidal levels, no damage was reported and warnings were later lifted.