UN releases P600-M aid for PH ‘Odette’ response

The United Nations pledged USD12 million (approximately PHP600 million) as additional assistance to the country recently battered by Typhoon Odette (international name Rai).

“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,” UN Relief Chief Martin Griffiths announced on Christmas Eve.

CERF is the UN’s global emergency response fund that supports rapid humanitarian efforts for people affected by natural disasters or armed conflict.

UN Resident Coordinator to the Philippines Gustavo Gonzales, who just came from a field mission in the ‘Odette’ -battered areas in the Visayas and Mindanao, underscored the “serious impact of the typhoon on infrastructure, on houses, and on livelihood” in the region.

“We can conclude, as a result of this mission, that Rai (Odette) has been devastating. What I saw in my visit are roads covered with debris, electricity down, hundreds of houses without roofs, and of course, the impact on people. You can see people along the border of the road between Butuan and Surigao asking desperately for help, emergency shelter, drinking water, and food,” he said in a press briefing before the UN on Thursday night.

Gonzales highlighted the fact that the devastation came as the country continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic, describing it as a “crisis within a crisis”.

The UN Philippines chief said humanitarian access and communications constraints in the area also make it “very difficult” to get a comprehensive analysis of the typhoon’s impact.

“We are confronted to a situation where we cannot access the islands, we cannot communicate with the local authorities, so we are not surprised that perhaps in the coming days, the figures that we are using will change and certainly they will increase,” he said.

Citing initial reports, Gonzales said about three million people are in need of assistance, of which around one million are children.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, meanwhile, is validating 312 casualties, 659 injured, and 54 missing persons reported in the aftermath of the typhoon.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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