UN: Don’t make typhoon a forgotten crisis

December 23, 2013 - 10:01:07 am
MANILA: United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon yesterday called on donor nations to ramp up aid to typhoon-battered Philippines as it grapples with a funding shortfall on the long road to recovery.

Ban issued the statement as he noted that the UN had so far achieved only 30 percent of the $791m in aid it had appealed for to boost relief and rehabilitation efforts in areas devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan last month. He expressed hope that his visit would inspire the international community to “keep focus on this crisis.”

“We must not allow this to be another forgotten crisis,” Ban announced at a joint press conference with Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario.

Ban said he met with the ambassadors of donor nations yesterday morning and “I urged them to provide, speed up the support”. Ban visited Tacloban City yesterday to see the extent of Haiyan’s damage in the area. He departed Manila yesterday.

He said he was deeply moved and inspired by his visit to Tacloban, where despite the many challenges, people are working hard to recover.

“I was very impressed on the strong resilience of the people. The villages are coming slowly to normalcy. People are more motivated. Many people, citizens wearing safety helmet were clearly helping, whatever they could do they would do,” he added.

Ban also said the UN stood firm in its commitment to help the Philippines as it lays out a long-term plan to rebuild typhoon-battered areas. Ravaging an area the size of Portugal, Haiyan inflicted $12.9bn  in damage and left 4.4 million people homeless. The Philippine government said it would need $8.17bn over four years for a massive rebuilding effort.

“Therefore, the UN and country teams and all agencies will work very closely to help this long-term recovery and reconstruction plan be realised as soon as possible,” Ban said.

The UN leader also acknowledged some bottlenecks in relief efforts in the immediate aftermath of the typhoon owing to logistical challenges in reaching remote areas impacted by the typhoon.

He joined the Philippine government in thanking the armed forces of 25 nations that helped overcome logistical hurdles in delivering humanitarian assistance to typhoon-hit areas.

“There has been excellent cooperation between the United Nations and its partners and the Philippines authorities at every level. Aid deliveries have been scaled up significantly,” Ban said.

For his part, Del Rosario said Ban’s visit to the country demonstrated the UN’s firm commitment to help the typhoon victims.

“Throughout this tragedy, the United Nations has been steadfast in its support for the Filipino people in the devastated areas, as demonstrated by the very quick response of the UN and humanitarian country teams in the immediate aftermath of the typhoon and the UN flash appeal,” Del Rosario said.

More than 100,000 survivors are still staying in evacuation centres and most of them may spend the Christmas holiday there. 

Data released yesterday showed that 101,527 people or 20,924 families are still housed in 381 evacuation centres, while 3,993,753 people or 869,971 families are receiving assistance outside evacuation centres.

The death toll from the typhoon climbed to 6,109 and the number may still rise as authorities are still conducting retrieval operations. The number of missing persons remains at 1,779.

The Philippine Star
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