Philippines: People desperate to regain some degree of normality, says UN Humanitarian Chief

13 November, 2013
13 November, Philippines: Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos visits communities affected by Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban. Tens of thousands of people have lost their homes and are now living in the open or in damaged buildings. Credit: OCHA
13 November, Philippines: Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos visits communities affected by Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban. Tens of thousands of people have lost their homes and are now living in the open or in damaged buildings. Credit: OCHA

UN Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos visited communities in Tacloban who have been severely affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda) on Wednesday. Seeing for herself the massive devastation left by the disaster, Ms. Amos called on the international community not to let the people of the Philippines down in time of such great need. 

"We talk constantly about the resilience of the Filipino people,” she said. “I saw it today. People with absolutely nothing are doing their best to regain some degree of normality - I felt and continue to feel that we let them down." 

Latest estimates from the Government and humanitarian organizations on the ground show that 11.5 million people have been affected, including over half a million people who remain displaced and are sheltering in evacuation centres, with other families and wherever they can. 

"Tens of thousands of people are in the open and in destroyed buildings, including some 20,000 people still sheltering at the badly damaged sports stadium which was used as an evacuation centre,” said Ms. Amos who arrived in the Philippines on 12 November to take stock of the situation and humanitarian response. 

“Medical facilities, food, clean water and basic sanitation are still not available to almost everyone. Twelve foot waves from the storm surge that accompanied the typhoon destroyed almost every structure in the city.” 

Over 25 international humanitarian organizations, including response teams from other countries, UN, the Red Cross, NGOs and the International Organization for Migration, are supporting the Government’s efforts to respond to the crisis. They continue to bolster their efforts but are still facing major access and logistical challenges due to the destruction. 

The humanitarian chief, who met with members of the humanitarian community in Tacloban, said that trucks, motorcycles, generators and telecommunications equipment was urgently needed. She added that a large-scale cash-for-work programme was needed immediately to help clear roads littered with debris.

The Government and humanitarian organizations launched a flash appeal yesterday calling for $301 million and have received 13 per cent of the funding so far. They are reaching people with food, shelter and water purification supplies as well as psychosocial support. 

Ms. Amos also met with Philippines officials in Tacloban leading the disaster response efforts. Tomorrow (14 November), she is expected to give a press conference in Manila. 

For more on the crisis, and to find out how you can support aid operations on the ground, visit OCHA’s Typhoon Haiyan hub

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