The United Nations and humanitarian partners called for over HK$223 million (US$28.6 million) to support the Government of the Philippines to respond to the serious humanitarian needs caused by the devastating Tropical Storm Sendong (international code name “Washi”) in Northern Mindanao.
The Emergency Revision of the Philippines (Mindanao) Humanitarian Action Plan 2012 aims to provide clean water for drinking and bathing, food, emergency shelter, and essential household items to 471,000 worst-affected people in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities for three months. Debris clearing to reduce health risks and logistics services that ensure uninterrupted delivery of life-saving programmes are also a priority.
Acting UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Dr. Soe Nyunt-U, who returned yesterday from a two-day visit to the two cities, was shocked by the scale of destruction that he saw firsthand. “It was as if the cities were hit by an inland tsunami,” he said. “Entire areas were completely flattened; only a few sturdy buildings remain standing, and these had sustained a lot of damage. Debris from houses, buildings and other structures that had been destroyed by the storm was all swept out to the sea, leaving huge areas devoid of all traces of habitation.”
To date, more than 1,060 people are dead or missing and 28,030 homes have been damaged or destroyed, according to the Government. More than 43,600 people are taking shelter in 51 evacuation centers and another 266,000 people are staying with relatives or in makeshift structures. These figures are expected to rise as more information becomes available. In Iligan city, where two thirds of the 44 barangays have been affected, a third of water sources are reported as damaged, and there is a city-wide lack of potable water.
“The overflowing generosity of the Filipino people is saving lives,” said Dr. Soe, adding that “the United Nations and humanitarian partners are working very hard to support Government-led efforts. The needs are however overwhelming.”
The Government declared a state of national calamity in the hardest hit areas, and accepted the international support offered by the United Nations and the Philippine Humanitarian Country Team. The Emergency Revision outlines the Humanitarian Country Team’s strategy to complement national and local efforts.
The humanitarian response plan for Tropical Storm Washi will be revised within six weeks to reflect ongoing sectoral assessments and evolving humanitarian needs. Shelter requirements for those whose houses have been destroyed or those who will be unable to return to their neighbourhoods categorised as hazardous and high risk areas will likely feature in the revision. Livelihood support to help people rebuild their lives will also be key.
For more information, please visit the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs website.