Kris Baylon, United Nations Foundation Intern
On November 8, Typhoon Haiyan ripped through my home country of the Philippines. The scenes of devastation are heartbreaking: The latest report estimates that more than 4 million people have been displaced and 13 million have been affected. For those of us outside the Philippines, the most we could do is watch the news and support the relief operations. But our support – and the support of people and organizations around the world – can make a difference.
The United Nations, along with the Philippine government and other humanitarian organizations, has mounted a massive and immediate response to provide emergency relief, including food, clean water, sanitation, and shelter, to the regions severely affected by the typhoon. Here is an update on the UN’s work to help those in need:
- On November 12, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Valerie Amos appealed for $301 million in support of relief efforts and recovery. As of November 18, $87 million had been pledged.
- The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) continues to deliver clean water and sanitation supplies to Tacloban and other affected areas. Recent reports have indicated that 200,000 people in Tacloban are now receiving access to clean water after the first water treatment plant went back to full operational capacity over the weekend. UNICEF is also working to provide child protection, health, education, and nutrition supplies to hard-hit areas.
- Since the disaster, the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) has been working with the Philippine government to provide people with food packs and high-energy biscuits. As of November 17, food for more than 750,000 people had been dispatched. WFP aims to provide food assistance for 2.5 million people over the next six months. As WFP delivers critical food supplies, it’s also transporting other emergency supplies such as generators and radios.
- The UN Refugee Agency has provided much-needed supplies, including plastic sheets, blankets, mosquito sets, and cooking utensils to 15,000 people in Tanauan and Tacloban. The agency is currently expanding its aid distribution to Ormoc, Leyte, and in Guiuan, Eastern Samar. According to UNHCR, additional aid flights are expected to bring supplies for more than 100,000 people.
- The lack of health workers, working ambulances, and operational facilities remain critical gaps that need to be filled. The World Health Organization is beginning to coordinate efforts to fill the gaps in health care as well as rehabilitation. The organization is also working with the Philippines’ Department of Health in developing a vaccination campaign to protect children under 5 years old against measles and polio.
- Other UN agencies such as the International Labor Organization and the UN Food and Agricultural Organization are working with the Philippine government to support the people whose livelihoods were affected. This includes an emergency employment program and the reconstruction of agricultural, fisheries, and forestry sectors.
Us Filipinos are known for maintaining our strong spirit during difficult times. After viewing the devastation, Amos said, “I continue to be struck by the resilience and spirit of the Filipino people. Everywhere I visited, I saw families determined to rebuild their lives under the most difficult conditions. I would like to assure them and the Philippines Government that the United Nations and international community continue to stand with them.”
You can stand with people in the Philippines. Donate to the UN Central Emergency Response Fund to help families affected by the recent typhoon and other disasters.
In the U.S., you can also text ONEVOICE to 90999 to make a $10 donation to CERF.*