Massive humanitarian needs emerge in the wake of Typhoon Bopha

تم النشر: 10 ديسمبر 2012 18:07 CET

By Afrhill Rances, in Manila

As rescue and assessment teams reach areas affected by Typhoon Bopha, the scale of devastation wrought by the storm continues to emerge. The government has declared 50 provinces, cities and municipalities under state of calamity. The typhoon has affected the lives of over 5 million people, wrecked over 70,000 houses and left more than 133,000 people seeking shelter in temporary evacuation centres.

In some cases entire villages have been devastated, but reaching some of the more remote areas of Eastern Mindanao has been a huge challenge with roads blocked or washed away and bridges collapsed.

The Philippine Red Cross is rolling out a massive relief operation. Teams on the ground have so far provided food and non-food supplies such as bedding and water storage containers to some 5,000 families in need.

“We have released supplies that were pre-positioned in Davao City – enough for more than 7,000 families – which we are now taking to the most affected areas of Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley. Additional items are being dispatched from our main warehouses in Manila,” says Richard Gordon, Chairman of Philippine Red Cross.

Red Cross assessment teams, who have been surveying the scale of the destruction since the deadly storm made landfall, have described the scale of devastation that they have witnessed as staggering. According to disaster authorities, while 600 people have been killed almost 800 people are still missing.

“Sadly hundreds of lives have been lost, and thousands more have been rendered homeless or with no means to meet their basic needs after their houses and livelihoods were washed away,” Gordon says.

On 5 December, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) launched a preliminary emergency appeal seeking 4.5 million Swiss francs to support Philippine Red Cross in delivering immediate relief and early recovery assistance to 10,000 families (50,000 people) who have been directly affected by the worst storm to hit the Philippines this year.

“We will need the support of our partners, locally and abroad, to help alleviate the suffering of these families and to help them recover their lives with dignity,” Gordon says.

As well as the assistance to be delivered under the IFRC emergency appeal operation, Philippine Red Cross relief efforts are being supported by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and other partners of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

Providing communities with food, shelter and clean water are immediate priorities. So far, Philippine Red Cross staff and volunteers have served ready-to-eat meals to 15,000 people in evacuation centres, delivered food packages to 5,000 families and provided non-food supplies such as sleeping mats, blankets, hygiene items, jerrycans and tents to 1,000 families.

Philippine Red Cross chapters are also surveying the scale of destruction the typhoon caused in other provinces, such as Bukidnon and Palawan where relief supplies have been dispatched.

It is expected that the results of these ongoing assessments will lead to an increased need for international support to enable the Philippine Red Cross to scale its operations up on the ground.