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”
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.
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