The United Nations (UN) through the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) pledged US$12 million (approximately Php600 million) as additional assistance to the Philippines severely ravaged by Typhoon Odette (international name Rai).
UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths on Thursday announced the allocation of the rapid response initiative that will be taken from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (UN CERF).
“I am releasing USD12 million from UNCERF (Central Emergency Response Fund) to help deliver urgent humanitarian assistance to support the Government-led response to Super Typhoon Rai (Odette) in the Philippines,” Griffiths said.
The assistance will reach out to individuals in the hardest-hit areas in the Caraga region and Region VIII, providing them food, water, and other basic needs such as sanitation hygiene kits, as well as shelter, logistics, and communication.
In a briefing before the body, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator to the Philippines, Gustavo Gonzalez, on Thursday underscored how typhoon Odette has been devastating, emphasizing the “serious impact of the typhoon on infrastructure, on houses, and on livelihood” in the region.
“I saw roads covered by debris, houses without roofs, and people on the border of Butuan and Surigao begging for water and food,” he said.
“This super typhoon evoked memories of [Typhoon] Haiyan (Yolanda),” added Gonzalez. “While the Government was more prepared for a typhoon of this magnitude this time around, the needs remain overwhelming.”
He also highlighted the fact that the devastation came amid the country’s fights against the coronavirus pandemic.
“The response set out in the plan will also prioritize COVID-19 protective measures,” said Gonzalez. “This is a crisis within a crisis. It happened at the end of the year when the Government has been able to keep down COVID-19 infections and inoculated a significant number of the population. We will work with the Department of Health (DOH) to ensure that these hard-won gains are not lost.”
In a Twitter post, OCHA Philippines said the United Nations and humanitarian partners are calling for $107 million to support the Philippine government in responding to the calamity.
Gonzales said the life-saving assistance will target “530,000 vulnerable people most affected by the devastation of the typhoon”.