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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

One Year On: Thousands Still Recovering from Typhoon Haiyan

On November 8, 2013, Typhoon Haiyan - one of the strongest tropical cyclones on record anywhere - ran ashore in the central Philippines, causing wide devastation, displacing 4 million people and killing at least 6,300. A year on, and the recovery work still goes on. While most of the 4.1 million people who were displaced have either returned home to rebuild, or been relocated, solutions are still needed for some 20,000 people either living in shelters or - in a small number of cases - with host families.

The UN refugee agency and partners such as shipments and logistics giant United Parcel Service (UPS) were swift to respond last November, contributing funds for immediate needs and for long-term recovery. Funding was used to provide critical aid during the emergency, including tents, solar-powered lanterns and protection kits.

A year after the typhoon struck, some people in Leyte province, one of the areas hardest hit, are still rebuilding their lives. People still need help with physical dwellings, water and sanitation, hygiene, as well as land and property issues. Some live in tents, others have moved into transitional housing and some families are building new houses. Despite the trauma, there is a real sense of hope for the future among the people of Leyte. Photographer Phil Behan and UNHCR staff member Marjanna Bergman visited the central Philippines to record the situation today.

One Year On: Thousands Still Recovering from Typhoon Haiyan

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

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Philippines: One Year After Typhoon Haiyan

On November 8 last year, Typhoon Haiyan slammed into the central Philippines, causing widespread devastation and killing thousands of people. A year on, and the recovery work still goes on. Bartolome on Leyte Island looks back at his family's experience, including living on a dredger for several weeks after their home was destroyed.
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Philippines : Rebuilding a Year After Typhoon Haiyan

One year ago, the central Philippines was hit by Typhoon Haiyan, a massive storm that wiped out entire communities and killed more than 6,000 people. Today, the residents of hard-hit areas such as Leyte Island are well on their way to rebuilding their lives.
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