The humanitarian community’s response and commitment in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan had been phenomenal despite overwhelming challenges, John Ging, a senior humanitarian official said today at a press conference at United Nations Headquarters.
Mr. Ging, Director of Operations for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said the Typhoon had left a large trail of destruction across the Philippines. “Currently, 13 million were affected, 1.9 million displaced and 3,600 people have died”, he added.
He applauded the international community for their support to a $301 million appeal launched in Manila, noting that $72 million had so far been received. Furthermore, the OCHA official expressed his gratitude to the United States, United Kingdom, Israel, Malaysia, Australia, Japan and Sweden, and to other countries for their logistical support, humanitarian services and recovery efforts. However, he stressed the need for a more sustained and collective response to helping those affected by the disaster to rebuild their lives.
Also present at the briefing was Ted Chaiban, Director of Emergency Programmes for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), who stated that the Typhoon had affected an estimated 5 million children and that the Fund’s emergency efforts were running non-stop. “UNICEF staff were on the ground in Tacloban, Ormoc, Aklan and Capiz, and had set up field offices to render support to those affected,” Mr. Chaiban said.
UNICEF was gaining a clearer picture of the massive needs for clean water, food, essential medicines and sanitation for children in those affected communities, he said. All of those items had become a top priority for the Fund.
Speaking on the issue of water, he said that those resources had been partially restored in Tacloban city and that would improve access to 200,000 people including children and women. Furthermore, significant amounts of supplies had been delivered to the locality including water bladders, hygiene kits, toilet slabs, and water purifying tablets. Through a partnership with Oxfam, hygiene kits were distributed in northern Cebu and, in cooperation with the Department of Public Works and Highways, sludge treatment facilities had been constructed and emergency latrines and mobile toilets deployed.
Responding to questions, Mr. Ging said that money was “grossly” needed to cope with humanitarian crises, not only in the Philippines, but across the world, noting that, “humanitarian activities were unfunded and funds were also needed to tackle the challenges.” Funds were needed to secure relief supplies, and to stock them in warehouses across the world, so as to be well-prepared for natural disasters. In addition, helicopters and other air transportation facilities were required to reach localities that were inaccessible by roads.