United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the international community to scale up its donation to the $791-million flash appeal that will be coursed for the recovery efforts in the areas hit by Typhoon Yolanda last month.
In a joint press conference with Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Ban said the $791-million flash appeal issued by the UN earlier this month for the continuous rehabilitation efforts in Yolanda-hit areas for the next year has so far only been funded 32 percent or $253.1 million.
“That’s why I’m appealing to the international community to speed up and scale up their support to the Philippine government to ease and help those people . . . in this tragedy,” the official said.
He earlier met with the ambassadors of the key donor countries and urged them to speed up their support.
“They [victims]need this support immediately because there are still shortage of food, for water and sanitation and they need a shelter,” Ban said.
The secretary-general arrived in Manila on Friday and proceeded to Tacloban City, the most devastated by the typhoon, on Saturday.
“My impression having visited Tacloban was very, very dire situation, still very dire,” Ban said, but noted the “strong resilience” of the people.
The villages, he added, are slowly coming back to normalcy while people are seemingly more motivated. Many of them are also wearing safety helmets and helping whatever is needed in the cleaning, relief and reconstruction process.
However, Ban recognized that the task of rebuilding and reconstructing is a daunting task, especially as this will involve heavy equipment lifting, which may take some time.
“This is a huge logistical challenge. because of the geographical location and weather condition . . . it is still not always favorable but we should know that all UN agencies are fully mobilized under the leadership of the president humanitarian coordinator.”
Ban met all the representatives of UN agencies in the country on Saturday and asked them to work as “one team.”
“We really must meet the expectations of those people who desperately need our support and the UN continue to standby with the Philippine government.”
Meanwhile, Ban also expressed support for the four-year $8.17 billion appeal issued by the Philippine government on December 18 for the rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts in the affected areas.
President Benigno Aquino 3rd said that the government will not only “build back” but will “build back better.”
“The plan aims to restore the economic and social conditions of the affected areas at the very least to pre-typhoon levels and to create a higher level of disaster resilience,” Ban explained.
“I urge all donors to add to their already generous response so that we can help communities to build back better and safer.”
He then thanked the international community for responding to the needs of the affected areas by reaching out to at least four million people who have received aid, by establishing mobile clinics and water treatment sites and by distributing relief food and emergency supplies.
In the longer term, the UN plans to work together with the government on its development priorities.
Ban said that by next year, some 72 hectares of agricultural land must be ready for harvest so as not to affect the normal process of farming. This will also help provide livelihood to the survivors of the typhoon. BERNICE CAMILLE V. BAUZON