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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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: A home for NowPlay video

Philippines: A home for Now

Losing your family and home is losing everything you are and have. Tyhone Haiyan tore many families apart and took almost every persons home in Tacloban City ... in one day. UNHCR has provided more than 1,500 family tents to families in this area in addition to solar lanterns, plastic sheets, blankets and other relief items to help the people of Tacloban City regain a sense of life.
Philippines: Leaving the Darkness Play video

Philippines: Leaving the Darkness

When typhoon Haiyan swept Tacloban City, it took with it what people need the most to see their way through any hard time: light. UNHCR has provided people of the Philippines with relief items that are helping make a difference. Relief items such as solar lanterns, plastic sheets, blankets and more than 1,500 family tents to families in this area.
Philippines: Picking up the Pieces.Play video

Philippines: Picking up the Pieces.

In Tanauan, one of the coastal areas worst hit by Typhoon Haiyun, people are being given tents and assistance while they start rebuilding their homes and lives.