Philippines: Concern growing for people cut off by Super Typhoon Haiyan
The United Nations and its humanitarian partners are ramping up relief efforts in the Central Philippines in the wake of the devastation wrought by Super Typhoon Haiyan. The Government estimates that 9.5 million people have been affected, with almost 620,000 displaced from their homes.
At least 1,200 people have died according to the Philippine Red Cross. That number is expected to increase as more affected areas become accessible.
Access to some severely affected areas remains a major concern. Many roads and bridges across the affected area – which spans nine regions and 36 provinces – are impassable. Unknown numbers of survivors do not have basic necessities such as food, water and medicines.
“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,” said Luiza Carvalho, the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the Philippines.
UN emergency teams reach Tacloban City
UN Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos issued a statement on 9 November expressing her sadness and extending the support of the UN.
“The United Nations agencies in the Philippines, with their humanitarian partners, are supporting the Government and other responders in their efforts to assess the situation and respond rapidly with vital supplies,” said Ms. Amos.
A series of UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) teams have arrived in some of the worst affected areas, including Tacloban City, the capital of Leyte Province.
Water, hygiene and sanitation, food, medicines, shelter, debris clearance, logistics and communications are immediate priorities in the city. Access is also a major concern: it currently takes about six hours to make the 22km roundtrip journey between Tacloban city and the airport.
There are 13 evacuation centres in Tacloban hosting about 15,000 people. People in the evacuation centres told UNDAC team members of their wish to return home as long as they are provided with repair materials and emergency shelter. However, those from coastal areas are reluctant to return due to the presence of dead bodies.
In the outskirts of Tacloblan City, there is still no food, no water and no electricity according to humanitarian agency representatives who travelled overland from Manila. They reported streams of people walking along the roads towards food distribution points in the city centre.
UN and international community rally
Typhoon Haiyan made its first landfall in the early hours of 8 November on the far-eastern island of Samar. It brought with it maximum sustained winds of 235km per hour, making it one of the most powerful storms to ever make landfall. It continued across the country, making a number of subsequent landfalls.
“The United Nations remains on standby to mobilize any support that the people of the Philippines require from the international community,” said Ms. Amos.
Relief operations are underway, including the airlifting of lifesaving food, health, medical and other supplies. Emergency stockpiles across the affected area have also been released.
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