Aid agencies boost relief efforts in Mindanao

A gymnasium served as an emergency center in Cagayan de Oro, Philippines where people displaced by typhoon Washi are provided with relief supplies by local officials and other donors. Photo by: Mathias Eick / ECHO / CC BY-ND

Aid agencies have flocked to storm-hit Mindanao, the Philippines’ southernmost group of islands where the dead, the missing and the displaced continue to increase in number.

The latest report from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council pegs the number of deaths due to tropical storm Washi at 1,002. The displaced, meanwhile, is at 285,000.

The U.N. World Food Program is currently distributing its second batch of high-energy biscuits to 65,000 people — including some 15,000 children under five — in evacuation centers in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, the two cities hit badly by the storm. It is also providing logistical support to the Philippine government, including the deployment of a mobile storage tent, and delivery of water tanks, blankets, tarpaulins and tents for surviving flood victims.

UNICEF, meanwhile, launched a $4.2 million appeal to assist afflicted families — including an estimated 200,000 children — for the next three to six months.

The World Health Organization, for its part, will be sending mosquito nets to prevent malaria and dengue from spreading in evacuation centers. It is also working on a disease surveillance system for communicable and noncommunicable diseases, and on training local health workers.

Tarik Jasarevic, a WHO spokesperson in Geneva, said the health organization is seeking $1.6 million to ensure communities affected by the storm will continue to have access to essential public health services.

Meanwhile, nonprofit disaster relief and humanitarian aid organization AmeriCares will be sending an emergency air shipment containing 2,000 pounds of medical aid containing antibiotics, nutritional supplements and hygiene products to hard-hit Mindanao. This is in addition to the medicines and relief supplies it coursed earlier through its partner organization in Manila. The shipment will come from its U.S. headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut and is expected to leave Thursday (Dec. 22).

The organization, in a press release posted on MarketWatch, says it will also be delivering chronic care medications for flood victims who have cardiovascular health problems and diabetes, ensuring they maintain their treatment regimens even in a time of crisis.

Vanessa Huguenin, public information officer of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said the agency is revising its 2012 humanitarian action plan for Mindanao to include needs from the latest disaster. The initial appeal was for $38 million.

In support of the emergency response and relief operations in Mindanao, the European Commission announced Tuesday (Dec. 20) it will allot €3 million ($3.9 million) for debris cleanup and for providing food, temporary shelter, medical assistance, water and sanitation facilities, and protection for the vulnerable.

“The funding will bolster the efforts of humanitarian organizations who are working hard to provide immediate assistance,” EU aid chief Kristalina Georgieva said. “In order to ensure coordinated and effective EU action, we have also activated the Civil Protection Mechanism to advise Member States and participating countries on what is needed.”

The Civil Protection Mechanism facilitates cooperation among 31 European states in disaster response. Since its creation in 2001, it has been activated to assist in several disasters, including the earthquakes in Haiti and Japan in 2010 and 2011.

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About the author

  • Ravelo jennylei

    Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.