MANILA, Philippines – The United Nations appealed for more aid for typhoon victims in the Philippines on Friday, increasing the original amount it sought to raise by $47 million (P2 billion) to $348 million (P15 billion).
UN Undersecretary General Valerie Amos, the world body’s humanitarian chief, made the announcement at the UN headquarters in New York after seeing for herself the situation in the hardest-hit areas of the Visayas, including Tacloban City, which she visited twice in two weeks.
“A massive disaster like this requires a massive response,” a UN press statement reported Amos as saying at a news conference in New York on Friday.
“Much more needs to be done. Food, clean water and shelter remain the top priorities. Vast numbers of vulnerable people are still exposed to bad weather and need basic shelter. Families who have lost their homes will need substantial longer-term support from the international community to ensure they have the means to rebuild their houses,” she added.
The UN launched on November 12 an action plan seeking to raise $301 million (P13 billion) from the international community to support six months of relief and recovery operations in Eastern Visayas, including the provision of emergency food, shelter and water and the restoration of education and health systems and livelihood.
Of this amount, 39 percent or $134 million (P5.8 billion) has already been funded, according to the UN. This amount, which was coursed through the United Nations, is part of the $343.62 million (P14.98 million) in assistance that the Philippine government has said it has received from the international community, including individual governments and organizations.
The UN is set to undertake a “major review” of the appeal in early December, and Amos said the renewed appeal is expected to bring the amount sought even higher as “there are still communities yet to be reached.”
“The logistical challenges have been enormous, with many roads blocked and airports unusable in the first few days. The impact on essential services, hospitals, banks and markets, as well as the lack of fuel, transport, water and power, made it very difficult to scale up aid as quickly as was needed,” Amos said.
As the need for assistance is expected to continue, Amos commended the international community for the immediate response but also underscored the UN’s strained resources as it has to sustain similar work in disaster and conflict areas in other parts of the world.
“I saw how the international community pulled together with the communities and authorities to work out how to overcome major obstacles, and saw more and more people being reached with basic assistance,” said Amos.
“We count on donors to help us rapidly address this shortage of supplies. The people of the Philippines deserve our unwavering support as they survive this crisis, start rebuilding their lives and have hope for a better future,” she said.
UN agencies have been working closely with the Philippine government and aid agencies to provide relief to the hardest-hit and most vulnerable, including women and children, among some 13.25 million people affected when Supertyphoon Yolanda barreled through the Visayas on Nov. 8.
According to the government’s official count, the death toll has gone over 5,200, and the number is expected to rise with thousands still unaccounted for and other isolated areas still yet to be reached.
Yolanda also left four million people homeless.
“Families who have lost their homes will need substantial longer-term support from the international community to ensure they have the means to rebuild their houses,” Amos said.
“I am very concerned that some 1.5 million children are at risk of acute malnutrition and close to 800,000 pregnant and nursing mothers need nutritional help. People living with chronic disease and other vulnerable groups need medication and specialist care,” she said.