Typhoon Haiyan: Displacement grows as survivors move for aid; delivery gains pace

Briefing Notes, 19 November 2013

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 19 November 2013, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

In the Philippines, thousands of typhoon survivors from Tacloban and other affected areas are believed to have left their home areas in search of family and assistance in surrounding areas or as faraway as Cebu and Manila.

Shortly after the typhoon hit on November 8, people started leaving by sea and air. Cargo flights delivering aid from Cebu to Tacloban, Guiuan and other places have been returning with plane loads of displaced people every day.

The full number is still unclear. According to the Philippines government as many as 4 million people could now be internally displaced. Starting tomorrow UNHCR and its partners in the protection cluster will set up a designated area at the airport in Tacloban to collect information on these displaced people, their destinations and vulnerabilities, and to try and ensure assistance on arrival and to prevent trafficking incidents. This protection monitoring system is expected to expand to other areas that displaced people are leaving from.

Yesterday [Monday] UNHCR field protection teams arrived in Ormoc in western Leyte and Guiuan in Eastern Samar where Typhoon Haiyan first made landfall.

The teams are equipped with trucks and fuel supplies to support two newly-established humanitarian hubs. Their work will initially focus on establishing protection coordination mechanisms and assessing the needs in and around Ormoc and Guiuan. The aim is to facilitate the prompt delivery of aid, and to ensure that people with specific needs are receiving help, especially in remote locations.

In Ormoc, the local authorities told our staff that most of the 109 affected administrative areas, or barangays, have received some form of assistance. Food, medicines and shelter materials such as plastic rolls are still urgently needed. A few areas have yet to receive non-food supplies such as plastic sheets and blankets.

In Ormoc our team is today visiting areas outside the city to assess the situation and needs in rural areas.

Communications with our staff in Guiuan remain difficult because of the damage to infrastructure. Survivors report that entire villages along the coast were wiped out by the typhoon and storm surge.

In Tacloban, our team has been distributing plastic sheets and blankets in Barangay 88, one of the hardest-hit areas of the city. We have also sent family-sized tents to Tanauan south of Tacloban to help the authorities set up a temporary tented site for displaced people, where our relief supplies arrived last week. Some 15,000 people in both areas have been assisted so far.

UNHCR aid continues to arrive in the country through on-going airlifts. Two further aid flights are expected today. In total, nine flights will bring 10,000 tents, 112,000 blankets, 66,000 plastic sheets, 9,000 solar lanterns and other relief supplies for a total of more than 100,000 people. On arrival in Cebu, these items are quickly moved to the affected areas through a combination of air, sea and land transport.

At the request of UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos, UNHCR has increased its volume of aid and raised its appeal to US$15 million.

In addition to providing relief items, UNHCR is also co-leading the protection cluster with the government to ensure that protection concerns remain a key consideration in interventions by all other clusters, and that people with specific needs have access to assistance and services.

For more information on this topic, please contact:

  • In Tacloban, Vivian Tan on mobile +639175963484
  • In Manila, Marie Michelle Liquigan on mobile +639189208765
  • Karin de Gruijl on mobile +63 91 834 3838
  • In Geneva, Adrian Edwards on mobile +41 79 5579120
  • Babar Baloch on mobile +41 79 557 9106



UNHCR country pages

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

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

Picking Up the Pieces in Sri Lanka

In an unprecedented response to a natural disaster, the U.N. refugee agency – whose mandate is to protect refugees fleeing violence and persecution – has kicked off a six-month, multi-million dollar emergency relief operation to aid tsunami victims in Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Somalia. UNHCR has worked in Sri Lanka for nearly 20 years and has the largest operational presence in the country with seven offices, 113 staff and a strong network of partnerships in place. The day of the tsunami, UNHCR opened up its warehouses in the island nation and began distributing existing stockpiles – including plastic sheeting, cooking sets and clothing for 100,000 people.

UNHCR estimates that some 889,000 people are now displaced in Sri Lanka, including many who were already displaced by the long-running conflict in the north. Prior to the tsunami, UNHCR assisted 390,000 people uprooted by the war. UNHCR is now expanding its logistical and warehouse capacity throughout the island to facilitate delivery of relief items to the needy populations, including in the war-affected area. The refugee agency is currently distributing relief items and funding mobile health clinics to assist the injured and sick.

Picking Up the Pieces in Sri Lanka

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