UNHCR relief focus on area near typhoon-hit Tacloban, more aid coming in by air

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 15 November 2013, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR aid efforts for people affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines have geared up further over the last couple of days with the arrival of two airlifts into Cebu. Distribution of aid in Tacloban City has been under way since mid-week, and a further aid flight from Dubai will be on its way shortly.

UNHCR's first aid came from our national stockpiles and reached Tacloban City on Wednesday, as part of the UN response. UNHCR staff have been working with the authorities to help some 7000 people so far. The aid was contained in two 40-foot container trucks. These carried 2000 jerry cans, 1400 hygiene kits 600 mosquito nets, 1176 kitchen items, 1400 plastic sheets 1400 blankets and 1900 sleeping mats. Targeted areas include a very badly-damaged municipality called Tanauan, 45 minutes outside Tacloban.

Conditions in the Tacloban area remain very difficult. Severe fuel shortages mean that trucks can't deliver to communities far from the city. Right now there are still urgent need for tents and solar lamps.

UNHCR staff have been working with our government counterpart to do quick assessments in the east and west of the city to identify specific needs, such as those faced by women, children, the elderly and the disabled. These individuals are being prioritized for aid distribution.

The first Boeing 747 aircraft carrying UNHCR aid landed at 6.30 pm local time yesterday at Mactan International Airport in Cebu carrying hundreds of family-sized tens. This was followed by the arrival of a second airlift this morning local time. In all, UNHCR plans to fly in emergency supplies for 16,000 families.

Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their homes. They need tents urgently especially as rains have continued this week in some areas. We are working to rush supplies to the neediest people but this is hampered by limited means to reach these areas.

Aid agencies on the ground in Cebu and typhoon struck areas are still struggling to meet the huge aid needs. In addition, some truck drivers are reportedly afraid to deliver aid as they fear being ambushed or robbed en route.

UNHCR's emergency response is part of the wider United Nations relief effort in the Philippines. We are co-leading the Protection Cluster along with the national Department of Social Welfare and Development of the government of the Philippines.

For more information on this topic, please contact:

  • In Tacloban, Vivian Tan on mobile +639175963484 (English, Mandarin)
  • Arjun Jain on mobile +639999939417 and sat phone +8821651208661 (English)
  • In Manila, Bernard Kerblat on mobile +639175963491 (French, English, Thai)
  • Karin de Gruijl on mobile +63 91 834 3838 (Spanish, Dutch, English)
  • Marie Michelle Liquigan on mobile +639189208765 (English, Filipino)
  • In Geneva, Adrian Edwards on mobile +41 79 5579120 (English)
  • Marie Delphine on mobile +41 79 500 9474(French, English)
  • Babar Baloch on mobile +41 79 557 9106 (English, Urdu, Hindi)