UN pours aid to typhoon-hit Pinoys during holidays

National, News

TABACO CITY — Some 1,030 families from four Albay municipalities who celebrated Christmas in evacuation centers received building materials, tools, and cash to help them put a roof over their heads in time for the New Year.

 The aid recipients were among the tens of thousands of families have lost their homes during the onslaught of Super Typhoon Rolly.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN agency for migrants, and the non-government organization Catholic Relief Services have been distributing shelter repair kits to households in 17 barangays in the towns of Tiwi, Malinao, Malilipot, and this city (Tabaco) throughout December.

The kit, intended for the emergency repair of damaged houses to make them livable, consists of corrugated galvanized iron for roofing, coco lumber for posts and framing, nails, hammer, saw, and shelter-grade tarpaulin. The IOM also distributed cash assistance in the 17 barangays.

“Happiness is all I am feeling right now because I have received assistance from you. Thank you so much. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,” said 5-month pregnant Rosewinda Callejo, of Tagoytoy, Malinao town who received cash assistance and a shelter repair kit on December 15.

UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for the Philippines, Gustavo Gonzalez, noted that yearend holidays are very important for Filipinos. “It is the time when families come together. This is why the United Nations and its humanitarian partners proudly continue to deliver humanitarian assistance to the very last day of this difficult year. We are not merely rebuilding homes of people most affected by the two typhoons but also bringing them hope and dignity,” he said

The IOM’s emergency shelter assistance is part of the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) support of US$3.1 million (PHP150 million) awarded to the Philippines by UN Undersecretary General and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock.

The CERF funding will allow the Unicef, IOM, and UN World Food Program to provide life-saving assistance in water supplies, sanitation services, hygiene, emergency shelter, and food to address time-critical needs, especially for the poorest single-headed households, the elderly, and people with disabilities in the hardest-hit areas of Albay and Catanduanes.

The CERF funding is one of the projects of the Humanitarian Needs and Priorities Plan (HNP) that was launched by the UN and humanitarian partners in the Philippines in November to come to the aid of nearly 280,000 people affected by “Rolly” and Typhoon Ulysses.

The HNP calls for US$52.6 million from its resource partners to provide assistance in terms of food, access to clean water-sanitation-hygiene (WASH) facilities, emergency shelter and livelihood, health, and early recovery.

Some 80 humanitarian partners in the country, including the UN, NGOs, the Red Cross and Red Crescent, and the private sector, which comprise the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) in the Philippines, have been working throughout November and December to implement it.

The HCT has so far received US$12.9 million, or just 25 percent of the support called for in the HNP. Yet, in just two months since “Rolly,” the HCT has deployed wide-ranging assistance in the National Capital Region (NCR), as well as the Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, and the Bicol regions.

Cash assistance has been distributed to some 3,125 families. Emergency shelter support, including 13,599 shelter-grade tarps, 2,600 roofing materials, and 7,700 tool kits, have benefitted families beyond the four municipalities in Albay.

Some 57,210 individuals have received hygiene kits and more than 52,000 people have been given water kits. Back-to-school kits and food for children suffering from acute malnutrition have also been distributed.

At the same time, the HCT continues to support the management of evacuation centers, benefitting 32,421 persons, half of whom are children. It has called for more support from resource partners to ensure that more typhoon-affected Filipinos are reached and that no one is left behind.

To date, at least 30,000 people remain displaced by the depredation by Typhoons “Rolly” and “Ulysses,” and remain in 181 evacuation centers across the five regions.

Four evacuation centers remain open in Albay. More than 8,600 schools, which were either damaged or destroyed, will require support in cleanup and repairs.

Damaged self-learning modules also need to be reprinted and redistributed, while educational supplies will have to be distributed to support the education continuity of 101,800 teachers and 2.8 million K-12 learners from affected schools across the country.

Some 19,047 vulnerable and underserved households need food assistance while 15,525 farming and fishing households have yet to receive support.

Initial assessment put agricultural damage at more than US$22million, mostly to crops, such as rice and corn, severely affecting about 20,000 farmers. About 96% of rice crops in Camarines Sur have already declared as non-recoverable and will need support for replanting.

Meeting the daily food needs of people still displaced is a challenge, especially in hard-to-reach villages that have been isolated from any support.

“As the Philippines is one of the countries most affected by natural disasters and climate change on the planet, we have both a moral imperative on the humanitarian side and a clear economic case to support the government of the Philippines in adapting and strengthening its capacity to respond to weather-related shocks. If we do not address this issue more holistically, we are merely building sandcastles after each typhoon,” Gonzalez said.

The HNP was launched on November 9 by the HCT to address the needs of 260,000 of the most vulnerable people in provinces most affected by “Rolly.” On November 27, the HCT released a revised HNP, further extending support to areas severely affected by “Ulysses” in northern Luzon.

The revised HNP brings together collective humanitarian activities from November 2020 to April 2021 with a new total funding request of USD52.6 million (PHP2.5 billion).

The call for resources will directly assist 278,100 affected people in terms of food, access to WASH facilities, emergency shelter and livelihood, health, and early recovery.

Following a review of overall needs, 18,100 most-vulnerable people who were severely affected by “Ulysses” in Cagayan have beed added to the original target of 260,000 people in Albay and Catanduanes.

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