UNHCR to airlift aid to Typhoon Haiyan survivors in Philippines

Press Releases, 11 November 2013

The UN refugee agency announced today that it was organizing an emergency airlift to the Philippines, where an estimated 9.8 million people have been affected by last Friday's devastating Typhoon Haiyan.

UNHCR has already released supplies from its warehouse in Cotabato, Mindanao and is sending to Tacloban 1,400 protection kits and hygiene kits containing basic items such as plastic sheets, blankets, mosquito nets, soap and underwear.

Preparations are underway for the dispatching on Wednesday of a Boeing 747 flight from Dubai carrying 2,500 tents. Dubai is home to UNHCR's central emergency aid stockpile. The flight is expected to land in Cebu's Mactan International Airport. From there, the aid will be taken to the typhoon-affected areas, where they will be distributed by the government's Department of Social Welfare and Development and other partners. Further airlifts are being planned.

"The level of destruction we're seeing reported is absolutely staggering," said High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres. "Although UNHCR's work is usually focused on conflict-related situations, the exceptional nature of this tragic situation requires all possible efforts to get help to people in need, and we will play our full part in the common response to assist those affected."

Looting, mobbing of relief trucks, and jail breaks have been reported in some affected areas of the Philippines, adding to the trauma of survivors. To help with these and other vital protection needs, UNHCR is immediately deploying an additional emergency team that will include dedicated protection experts.

Working closely with the authorities and local communities, UNHCR's efforts are part of an inter-agency emergency response to the typhoon. In all, it plans to fly in emergency aid (including tents, plastic sheets, blankets, mats, water containers and cooking utensils) for 16,000 families. As part of a coordinated protection response, UNHCR will also distribute 50,000 solar lanterns that can help to mitigate the risks of gender-based violence and enhance the protection of families who have lost their homes.

"Our supplies will target zones devastated by the storm, paying special attention to heightened needs in areas which were already affected by internal conflict, including Eastern Samar, Northern Negros and Masbate surrounding the badly-hit area of Tacloban," said Bernard Kerblat, UNHCR's Representative in the Philippines. "This could involve setting up a UNHCR presence in Cebu and a logistical hub in Roxas."

Together with the Government's Department of Social Welfare and Development, UNHCR co-leads the Protection cluster, looking at issues related to the restoration of civil registration, and ensuring fair and effective services and distribution of aid.

For this emergency response, UNHCR has mobilized US$3 million from its operational reserve in Geneva and will seek a total of $10 million to provide life-saving aid for three months. It will work closely with the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the national Commission of Human Rights to assist people displaced by this natural disaster.

UNHCR traditionally works with conflict-displaced people in Mindanao. It also distributed protection and hygiene kits to 600 families displaced by fighting in Zamboanga and Basilan in September this year.

For further information, please contact:

  • In Manila, Marie Michelle Liquigan on mobile +639189208765
  • In Bangkok, Vivian Tan on mobile +66 818 270 280
  • In Geneva, Adrian Edwards on mobile +41 79 5579106
  • In Geneva, Babar Baloch on mobile +41 79 557 9106
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One Year On: Thousands Still Recovering from Typhoon Haiyan

On November 8, 2013, Typhoon Haiyan - one of the strongest tropical cyclones on record anywhere - ran ashore in the central Philippines, causing wide devastation, displacing 4 million people and killing at least 6,300. A year on, and the recovery work still goes on. While most of the 4.1 million people who were displaced have either returned home to rebuild, or been relocated, solutions are still needed for some 20,000 people either living in shelters or - in a small number of cases - with host families.

The UN refugee agency and partners such as shipments and logistics giant United Parcel Service (UPS) were swift to respond last November, contributing funds for immediate needs and for long-term recovery. Funding was used to provide critical aid during the emergency, including tents, solar-powered lanterns and protection kits.

A year after the typhoon struck, some people in Leyte province, one of the areas hardest hit, are still rebuilding their lives. People still need help with physical dwellings, water and sanitation, hygiene, as well as land and property issues. Some live in tents, others have moved into transitional housing and some families are building new houses. Despite the trauma, there is a real sense of hope for the future among the people of Leyte. Photographer Phil Behan and UNHCR staff member Marjanna Bergman visited the central Philippines to record the situation today.

One Year On: Thousands Still Recovering from Typhoon Haiyan

Typhoon Haiyan: On the Road to Recovery Six Months After the Storm

Six months after Typhoon Haiyan carved its deadly and destructive path through the central Philippines and forcibly displaced 4 million Filipinos, the area is like a big construction site as people get on with rebuilding their flattened homes as well as their lives. Many have moved into renovated homes while thousands of those who fled to cities like Cebu and Manila have returned home. But large numbers still live in tents or former evacuation centres; full recovery is still some way off and many people need help. UNHCR is working with the government and other partners to address the challenges and find solutions for the displaced. The refugee agency has provided assistance to more than 600,000 people, distributing shelter materials and household items, including solar-powered lanterns in areas where there is still no electricity. UNHCR is also supporting a government-led mobile civil registration project to give 100,000 people continued access to social welfare, education and employment. Photographer Jeoffrey Maitem marked the six-month milestone by visiting communities recovering from Typhoon Haiyan.

Typhoon Haiyan: On the Road to Recovery Six Months After the Storm

Typhoon Haiyan Devastates the Philippines

An estimated 13 million people were affected when Typhoon Haiyan struck the central Philippines on November 8. Thousands were killed and about 3 million are believed to be displaced - some of them living in evacuation sites, others on the ruins of their former homes. Tacloban City in Leyte province was one of the hardest-hit areas. A week after the typhoon made landfall, large parts of its coast remain flattened and piles of debris still line the streets. Working with the Philippines government and UN and NGO partners, UNHCR is airlifting emergency supplies for thousands of survivors. The agency is delivering tents, plastic sheets, mosquito nets and other critical aid. It is also co-leading the protection cluster with the government, working to identify vulnerable people and ensuring that they have access to basic assistance and services. UNHCR has appealed for US$15 million to meet these critical needs. UNHCR is now present in Tacloban and Ormoc in Leyte province, as well as Guiuan in Eastern Samar province.

Typhoon Haiyan Devastates the Philippines

Philippines: One Year After Typhoon HaiyanPlay video

Philippines: One Year After Typhoon Haiyan

On November 8 last year, Typhoon Haiyan slammed into the central Philippines, causing widespread devastation and killing thousands of people. A year on, and the recovery work still goes on. Bartolome on Leyte Island looks back at his family's experience, including living on a dredger for several weeks after their home was destroyed.
Philippines : Rebuilding a Year After Typhoon HaiyanPlay video

Philippines : Rebuilding a Year After Typhoon Haiyan

One year ago, the central Philippines was hit by Typhoon Haiyan, a massive storm that wiped out entire communities and killed more than 6,000 people. Today, the residents of hard-hit areas such as Leyte Island are well on their way to rebuilding their lives.
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