• UN appeals for more funds for typhoon victims

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    Children have fun swimming on a river in Marabut town in Samar province, one of the areas flattened by super typhoon Yolanda. PHOTO BY RENE H. DILAN

    Children have fun swimming on a river in Marabut town in Samar province, one of the areas flattened by super typhoon Yolanda. PHOTO BY RENE H. DILAN

    A United Nations (UN) development official said that the agency would need an additional $38 million to carry out programs next year to help typhoon victims and rehabilitate Visayas region.

    In a press briefing in New York on Monday (Tuesday in Manila), Haoliang Xu, assistant administrator and director of the Asian bureau of the UN Development Program (UNDP), said that the funds will be for the continuation of UN programs “for the next 12 months.”

    The UNDP official said that the funds will be used to improve early warning systems, education on disaster preparedness, cash-for-work program, building of evacuation centers, planting and restoring the environment and restoring power.

    “The road to recovery must also be the road to sustainability so bucket by bucket, street by street, we will set the communities on the path to recovery and sustainable human development,” Xu said.

    “The UN team in the Philippines [will]continue working with partners and the [Philippine] government to build back stronger, making communities more resilient and sustainable,” he added.

    UN agencies and partner organizations have provided rice, high-energy biscuits and other food products to three million people in typhoon-hit areas and offered cash-for-work programs to give employment to thousands of people.

    “Our objectives include clearing debris to allow easy access for aid to reach affected households; enabling people to bring home much needed income; injecting cash into the local economy; and developing ownership in the recovery process,” Xu, who visited the Visayas last week, said.

    Aside from food and employment, the UN, other institutions and the Philippine government provided housing materials to over 10,000 households and rice and corn seeds to be planted by 17,000 families for the next planting season.

    Xu said that their goal is to bring back “normalcy” in devastated areas by putting children in schools, getting jobs back for workers and reopening hospitals in the region.

    Death toll climbs
    According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, the number of families affected by super typhoon Yolanda has reached over 13 million. The death toll climbed to 5,680 while 1,779 people remain missing.

    Meanwhile, the United Nations refugee agency launched a fresh appeal for emergency aid for typhoon survivors.

    The office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said it now needs $19.2 million to address “primary protection issues” for devastated communities, more than double the $8.3 million it has raised so far.

    “Almost a month after the typhoon, its effects show no sign of abating,” said Bernard Kerblat, UNHCR representative in the Philippines.

    “Today, more than ever, protection and humanitarian assistance are needed to ensure that no more lives will be taken by the consequences of this devastating typhoon.”

    Tens of thousands of families remain displaced and an estimated 5,000 people are believed to be fleeing the hard-hit central islands of Leyte and Samar every day for Manila and Cebu, he said in a statement.

    The beefed-up aid appeal launched on Monday (Tuesday in Manila) by the refugee agency is aimed at distributing more life-saving supplies, including 98,600 plastic sheets, 7,500 tents and 19,000 solar lanterns, among other items.

    The UN announced last week that it would shortly increase its overall appeal, which currently stands at a total of $348 million, of which about half has been raised.

    “This new (UNHCR) appeal will form part of the upcoming UN aid appeal,” Johanna Morden, external relations associate for the UNHCR said.

    New European donors
    Sanofi, through the Sanofi Espoir Foundation, is donating 1.1 million euros to support the victims of Typhoon Yolanda as part of a campaign called the “Solidarity with the Philippines.” The campaign seeks to combine a corporate donation worth one million euros with contributions from Sanofi employees worldwide. Bulk of the amount is intended for the rehabilitation of hospitals or health centers in the affected communities as these facilities remain critical in the delivery of post-disaster healthcare.

    The amounts raised so far also includes 100,000 euros for the Médecins du Monde to help in emergency health response activities. Six batches of medicines have already been donated to the “First-aid Workers Without Borders” through Tulipe, the French organization that consolidates donations made by Sanofi and other health companies. The Sanofi group in the Philippines has also donated an initial batch of medicines and vaccines worth P7 million to the PHAP Cares Foundation, the corporate social responsibility arm of the local industry association, the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines.

    An internal campaign for relief goods and cash donation was also launched by the Blue Hands Volunteer Group, the employee volunteer group of Sanofi in the Philippines. Sanofi employees who were affected by the calamity have also been relocated to safer areas until they are able to return home. They have also been given emergency funds and other assistance to help them better cope with the tragedy.

    Employees of yet another European company, Schneider Electric, supported by the Group Foundation have mobilized themselves to bring their support to affected populations and prepare for reconstruction.

    Schneider Electric has decided to coordinate its actions toward emergency help and reconstruction and to launch a 250,000 euro emergency and rebuilding program as well as an international call for donation. These actions will be organized around two main axis:

    Emergency: The Schneider Electric Foundation will donate 70,000 euros to fund food packs for 20,000 families or 100,000 people; and,

    Rebuilding: on the mid-term, Schneider Electric will focus its efforts on projects contributing to restore or bring energy access and projects involving the construction, reconstruction and rehabilitation of technical training centers dealing with energy management. Schneider Electric will propose to employees to volunteer in the framework of the Schneider Electric Teachers NGO.

    The international campaign for donations at Schneider Electric started last month. The Schneider Electric Foundation will match all donations made.

    All of these initiatives will be coordinated by the Schneider Electric Foundation and its 120 delegates’ network and a dedicated project team based in the Philippines. As a partner of Gawad Kalinga since August 2013, Schneider Electric will collaborate closely with this Filipino Foundation, which aims to improve the quality of life of people at the base of the pyramid, to maximize impact through its knowhow and networks.

    Gawad Kalinga holistic community development program encompasses refuges, healthcare, education, food and housing. Today, it is the largest NGO in the Philippines, having set up more than 2,300 villages housing some one million people, with the help of around one million volunteers. Typhoon Haiyan affected nearly 600 of these communities.

    WITH A REPORT FROM AFP

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