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One month on, typhoon Haiyan survivors start to return home

Press Releases, 6 December 2013

A month after Typhoon Haiyan swept through the Visayas region of the Philippines, tens of thousands of displaced people are returning to their home areas. UNHCR's teams in five field locations continue to work with the government and partners to help address the needs of the most vulnerable among them.

According to government estimates, some 96,000 people currently remain in 430 evacuation centres in the region. The vast majority of displaced people are living outside the centres, often close to their destroyed homes.

UNHCR has so far distributed relief items to some 129,000 affected people. The aid includes much-needed emergency shelter and basic household items to tide them through the initial months. For example, the agency's teams are distributing family-sized tents to the worst-affected areas in Tacloban so that people can have a roof over their heads as they rebuild their homes. More tents have gone south to Tanauan for government sites targeting people moving out of evacuation

centres and coastal villages. UNHCR hopes that by the end of the year, more than 10,000 families can be moved out of overcrowded evacuation centres and unsafe coastal areas.

With electricity still down across the affected areas, the safety of women and children is of great concern. This week UNHCR started distributing hundreds of solar lamps to improve lighting and reduce security risks for families in Tacloban, Guiuan, Mercedes and Bantayan in northern Cebu.

As the co-lead of the protecting cluster in this emergency response, UNHCR is working with the government and partners to focus on communities that have not received assistance. This includes some indigenous communities and to those situated in more remote locations.

As the pace of return picks up and evacuation centres are being closed, it is important to ensure the dignified relocation of displaced people who are unable to return to their homes as a result

of the devastation or new building codes. This is especially true for people with specific needs including the elderly, disabled, indigenous people and households headed by women or children. Efforts are also needed to help their access to housing and livelihoods as well as documentation and legal assistance.

Even as many are returning home to rebuild, there is a movement of people, including reportedly teenagers, leaving from affected areas for big cities like Cebu and Manila to get family support and find work. UNHCR has also received reports of parents leaving their children with relatives in the typhoon-affected areas while they seek work in Manila.

UNHCR's partners including the government's Department of Social Welfare and Development, and the International Organization for Migration have posted staff at departure points in Tacloban, Ormoc and Guiuan to monitor these movements and try to prevent possible trafficking.

The UN refugee agency currently has 55 staff members dedicated to the emergency response in the Philippines. The agency also plans to establish a presence in Borongan in Eastern Samar province shortly. Earlier this week UNHCR increased its emergency appeal to US$19.2 million to boost life-saving aid and enhance its response to protection issues. To date the agency has received 43 percent of this amount.

For more information, please contact:

  • In Tacloban, Kent Bolisay on mobile +63 929 457 7645, email bolisay@unhcr.org
  • In Manila, Marie Michelle Liquigan on mobile +63 918 920 8765, email liquigan@unhcr.org
  • In Bangkok, Vivian Tan on mobile +66 818 270 280, email tanv@unhcr.org



UNHCR country pages

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.