Typhoon Haiyan: UNHCR reaches out to more communities, addresses gaps

Making a Difference, 22 November 2013

© UNHCR/R.Rocamora
Workers distribute plastic sheets in a district of Tacloban City.

CEBU, Philippines, November 22 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency continues to reach out to communities affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the central Philippines, deploying staff this week to Ormoc in western Leyte province and Guiuan in Eastern Samar province.

"They have been visiting numerous administrative units barangays to assess the evolving protection and other needs of typhoon survivors. They found some gaps that are being addressed," UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch said on Friday.

In some remote areas of Guiuan, where the typhoon first made landfall on November 8, logistical problems have hampered the smooth distribution of aid, including to the islands of Homonhon and Suluan. In addition, a community of 50 indigenous families have not been receiving food.

As the co-lead for the inter-agency protection cluster, UNHCR is working with the government and the World Food Programme to address these gaps and ensure that all affected groups can receive assistance equitably.

"Our staff also noticed that many communities are slowly getting back on their feet, especially in the city centres. Some shops are starting to reopen and commercial activities are resuming. In areas like Ormoc's barangay, Tagatay, where most of the houses were affected, people have started building makeshift shelters while repairing their houses," the spokesman said.

However, the situation in suburban and rural areas remains difficult. To date, UNHCR has distributed relief items to 23,000 typhoon survivors in Tacloban's San Jose and Bagacay areas, and in Tanauan. The areas south of Tacloban such as Tanauan, Julita and Talosa are severely affected and could take a longer time to recover. In the last two days, UNHCR has been sending teams there to assess needs and coordinate aid distribution.

In addition, UNHCR has also given an initial batch of 64 tents to help decongest schools currently being used to provide shelter. This will help to reopen schools.

"In Tacloban, we have received additional items from Cebu and expect supplies from Manila shortly. These will bring a total of 3,000 tents, 16,000 plastic sheets, 46,000 blankets and other urgently needed items. We are dispatching some of these supplies to Guiuan and Ormoc based on identified needs. These items will provide some respite from the elements while survivors focus on rebuilding their homes," said UNHCR's Baloch.

Meanwhile, thousands of displaced people continue to leave Leyte province by air and sea. On Wednesday, UNHCR set up tents at Tacloban airport to provide shelter to the waiting crowd. The International Organization for Migration and the government's Department of Social Welfare and Development have been registering people leaving on cargo planes, collecting data on their destination, needs and vulnerabilities.

This monitoring service provided by the protection cluster at the government's request seeks to ensure assistance for vulnerable people and to prevent trafficking.

By the end of Thursday, some 890 displaced people had been registered at Tacloban airport before departure. According to the authorities in Ormoc and Guiuan, hundreds of people are also leaving every day by air to Cebu and Manila. Many more are taking the sea route. The monitoring service will be expanded to these departure areas soon.

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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

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: 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.