Sees need to scale up assistance amid fund shortfall
UNITED Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on donor nations Sunday to ramp up aid to the typhoon-battered Philippines as it grapples with a funding shortfall on the long road to recovery.
“We must not allow this to be another forgotten crisis,” Ban told reporters a day after touring the storm-ravaged city of Tacloban.
He said the UN had only achieved 30 percent of the $791 million in aid it had appealed for to boost relief and rehabilitation efforts in areas devastated by super typhoon Yolanda last month.
“I am appealing (to) the donor community, to speed up, scale up their support,” Ban said, adding that he had met with the ambassadors of key donor countries in Manila on Sunday.
He said he was deeply moved and inspired by his visit to Tacloban on Saturday, where despite the many challenges “people are working hard to recover.”
Ban acknowledged some bottlenecks in relief efforts in the immediate aftermath of the typhoon owing to logistical challenges in reaching remote islands affected by the typhoon.
However, he said the UN stood firm in its commitment to help the Philippines as it lays out an ambitious plan to rebuild storm battered areas.
Super typhoon Yolanda walloped the central Philippines on Nov. 8, triggering giant tsunami-like waves that swallowed entire communities.
The typhoon, one of the strongest ever to hit land, left 6,102 people dead and 1,779 others missing, according to a government tally.
Ravaging an area the size of Portugal, it inflicted $12.9 billion in damage and left 4.4 million people homeless. The Philippine government said it would need $8.17 billion over four years in a massive rebuilding effort.
Ban, who arrived from Tacloban City Saturday, said there was still an immediate and dire need for food, water, sanitation and shelter in the typhoon-ravaged provinces.
“They need this support immediately,” Ban said.
Donations through the UN came from more than 80 entities, including member states, the Central Emergency Response Fund, multilateral institutions, private companies and individuals.
The UN needs to raise more than $539 million to implement its action plan for victims of typhoon Yolanda.
Ban came to the Philippines to meet government leaders and to visit Tacloban City, one of the cities worst hit by typhoon Yolanda.
After his meeting with President Benigno Aquino III on Saturday morning, he then proceeded to Tacloban.
Despite the serious situation, Ban said he was impressed by the resilience of the people and the willingness of those less affected by the typhoon to help the local governments.
Ban acknowledged that there were still backlogs in distributing relief as logistical and geographical location remained a challenge.
However, Ban said that the UN stood firm in its commitment to help the Philippines as it lays out an ambitious plan to rebuild badly devastated areas.
On Dec. 18, the Philippine government asked the international community for $8.17 billion to pursue a four-year effort to bring recovery and reconstruction to the affected areas.
The plan aims to restore the economic and social conditions of the affected areas at the very least to pre-typhoon levels and to create a higher level of disaster resilience.
“We will fully support the Philippine government’s efforts,” Ban said.
“The Philippine is among the most vulnerable nations to natural disasters. But it is also showing leadership in improving preparedness and building resilience,” Ban said.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), in a report dated Dec. 16, said basic community services are being restored quickly in most areas.
The report also said that access to basic services is improving but key health, nutrition, and sanitation related services are still lacking.
“Throughout the affected areas, markets are rapidly recovering, although key bottlenecks in the supply chain continue to influence affordability,” the report said.
The OCHA said that livelihoods, especially in farming and fishing, have been severely affected and household incomes are expected to be “limited for many months to come”.
“The most vulnerable people, particularly in remote islands and areas, remain food-insecure and highly dependent on food assistance,” the OCHA said.
The UN said its priorities in Eastern Visayas are to find shelter solutions, provide basic health services to prevent the outbreak of disease, increase the pace of recovery and rebuild livelihoods.
In the Western Visayas, the priorities are to provide emergency shelter, distribute food, and provide aid to isolated and disadvantaged areas. With AFP
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