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MANILA, Philippines – The United Nations will be appealing to the “global community and humanitarian aid agencies” to raise roughly P1.2-billion (US$28.6-million) to fund “immediate life-saving assistance” to thousands of residents of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities badly affected by tropical storm Sendong.
Dr. Soe Nyunt-U, UN humanitarian coordinator for the Philippines, presented to the media on Thursday, Dec. 22, a 36-page assessment report and rehabilitation “action plan” in the aftermath of ‘Sendong,” which highlightin the plight of calamity victims presently staying in evacuation centers.
The report, titled The Philippines Humanitarian Action Plan 2012, aims to provide “clean water, food, emergency shelter and essential household items” to 471,000 to affected residents until mid-March 2012, complementing national and local aid efforts.
Nyunt-U, who came from a two-day visit to Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, likened the cities to being hit “by an inland tsunami” and described villages directly affected by the December 16 flash flood as “completely flattened.”
“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,” Nyunt-U said.
As a result, 43,000 people are now being sheltered in 15 evacuation centers while 266,000 others are staying with relatives and in makeshift structures, citing a report of the Philippine government.
Nyunt-U expressed concern that the lack of clean water and “poor sanitation” in evacuation centers may lead to an outbreak of diseases that could worsen the “unbearable” condition of the calamity victims.
Ronald Flores, director of the Office of the Civil Defense, acknowledged there is “overwhelming need” to deliver help in Northern Mindanao and appealed to the “international diplomatic community” to the Philippine government.
“We will need all assistance to carry the enormous task of relief and recovery efforts,” Flores said, “we can not do this alone.”
Valerie Amos, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, has “approved for release” an initial grant of P131-million (US$3-million) “to kick start” the raising of the amount to fund the humanitarian response plan for Sendong victims. Nyunt-U said that the needed money will come “principally from the organization itself” by presenting the report in a “global level,”, with the international community and humanitarian aid agencies expected to pitch in.
The initial fund will be allocated to the “priority needs” of the evacuees: water, food and sanitation.
“In the next few weeks, we are confident we can already raise a chunk of the total amount,” Nyunt-U said, pointing out that other nations are expected churn out their contribution “since it’s the Christmas season.”
The humanitarian response plan will be revised in 6 weeks to ensure it reflects updated assessment on the needs of the calamity victims, as well as the long term plan on the shelter requirements of the evacuees who may not be able to return to areas classified as “high risk” and livelihood opportunities to help them rebuild their lives. – Rappler.com