Urgent needs remain 6 months after Yolanda

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Thursday, May 8, 2014

TACLOBAN CITY -- Six months after Typhoon Yolanda struck the Central Philippines on November 8, the humanitarian situation has stabilized across the affected regions.

But progress remains fragile as millions of survivors still require ongoing assistance. The most pressing needs are related to shelter and restoring people’s livelihoods.

“Thousands of people lost their lives on November 8. At this six-month marker, our thoughts are very much with the survivors who suffered the loss of so many friends and loved ones,” said Klaus Beck, United Nations Resident Humanitarian coordinator ad interim for the Philippines.


“After the super typhoon hit, our massive scale-up in delivery saved many lives and staved off what could have degenerated into a much worse humanitarian crises,” Beck said, speaking on behalf of the Humanitarian Country Team and Humanitarian Coordinator Luisa Carvalho.

The Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) for the Philippines is prioritizing programming for shelter and livelihoods while continuing to assist the most vulnerable people with assistance and protection services.

Support for the government’s early recovery efforts was foreseen in the HCT’s Strategic Response Plan (SRP), which covers the 12 months following the typhoon.

Of the $788 million required for the SRP, only 56 percent has been received. The typhoon affected 14 million people and destroyed or severely damaged more than a million homes.

Shanties in Anibong, Tacloban City
TACLOBAN. Shanties were again built along the shores in Barangay 68, Anibong District, Tacloban City, despite the declaration of the area as a "no build zone" six months after Typhoon Yolanda. (Jean Mondoñedo-Ynot)

Millions of people whose homes were lost or damaged now live in inadequate shelter, leaving them extremely vulnerable. "We have helped 133,000 households to build back. We provided tools and other materials, as well as training – including to mitigate storm risks. Support to assist an additional 380,000 households is now critical," Beck said.

Beck also said the risk of disease outbreaks, so far largely contained by the response, remains a major concern. Funds are urgently needed to sustain progress on vector borne-disease control and preparedness.

"Our achievements in the first six months of the response showed what is possible with generous donor contributions," Beck said. "The Filipino people in the affected areas deserve our continued support," he added.

Meanwhile, Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery Panfilo Lacson expressed dismay on Wednesday over at least two Cabinet officials whom he claimed were not cooperative on the government's efforts to rehabilitate areas ravaged by Yolanda.

"Parang walang pakialam, na alam nilang dapat cohesive 'yung coordination at saka 'yung mga usapan," Lacson said.

But the former senator refused to name the Cabinet officials, saying, "I need not name them, alam naman nila kung sino sila. So mga dalawa o tatlo lang naman 'yon."

"Maski ilang panawagan ang gawin, walang response. Wala man lang sabihing ‘hindi pwede, hindi namin kaya’—basta as in wala. Hindi ba frustrating ‘yon?," Lacson said.

He said he was trying to understand how busy these officials were. "Pero ito calamity ito, e, sana man lang (tumulong)," he added.

Lacson also proposed that these officials should instead name their point person who could easily approach them and whom they would listen to.

"Kasi pwedeng labas-pasok sa office ninyo, kung hindi niyo naman pinakikinggan, useless din. At kung pinakikinggan niyo nga, pero makikipag-appointment pa sa inyo nang ilang linggo bago ninyo mabigyan ng appointment, e patay din ang kabayo. So ‘yan ang dalawang kwalipikasyon lang na hinihingi namin," he said.

Lacson said he did not raise yet to President Benigno Aquino III his concerns regarding these Cabinet officials.

But one of these days, Lacson said he might discuss it with the President. (Rowel Montes/SDR/Sunnex)

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