Statement by Mr. Gustavo Gonzalez United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in the Philippines (February 2, 2022) – Philippines

Manila – As the number of people severely affected by Typhoon Rai – known locally as Odette – reaches nearly 10 million, the Humanitarian Country Team in the Philippines is today launching a Humanitarian Needs and Priorities Plan (HNP) at scale, calling for USD 169 million (PHP8.6 billion) aimed at helping the 840,000 most vulnerable people. This represents an increase from the 530,000 people targeted in the first PNH published on December 24, 2021.

Typhoon Rai swept through 11 of the country’s 17 regions on December 16-17, bringing torrential rains, strong winds, flooding and storm surges to the Visayas and Mindanao islands. In some areas, the level of devastation is comparable to that of Typhoon Haiyan (2013), still fresh in the memory of Filipinos.

The revised PNH reflects our new understanding based on more than 70 field assessments that despite the massive and rapid response from government and civil society organizations, humanitarian needs remain very high. Affected regions have suffered massive damage to infrastructure, agricultural land and the fishing sector, with local economies and livelihoods severely affected.

Seven weeks after the typhoon, nearly 144,000 people are still displaced and 1.7 million homes, 16,000 schools and 330 clinics have been damaged or destroyed. More than 10 million hectares of crops have been affected and 80 municipalities are still experiencing power outages or disturbances.

People urgently need shelter and repair kits to rebuild their homes; food, drinking water and access to medicine; and access to sanitary facilities. Protection must go through all the operations. Children need access to education as planned reopenings of some schools have been halted due to damage. Hundreds of thousands of people – especially members of farming and fishing communities – have lost their livelihoods and need help to get back on their feet.

Typhoon Rai worsened a situation already weakened by the pandemic, but it also affected some of the poorest areas of the country. The challenges are enormous and beyond the capacity of any organization. Only by working hand in hand with the Government and mobilizing the necessary resources can we ensure that these regions are not left behind. I call on the international community to join and support our collective plan on humanitarian needs and priorities.

The revised PNH will address the needs of Caraga and Southern Leyte as well as two additional areas in Region VII: Bohol and Cebu. The main response priorities for the six-month plan are shelter, food security and agriculture, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), protection and early recovery. Educational support is also important.

A crisis within a crisis, Typhoon Rai hit just as the Philippines was experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases, slowing the response and burdening the already disrupted medical system.

This follows two years of a pandemic that has increased vulnerability and now threatens to erode many hard-won development gains across the country. Prompt and generous donor support is essential to protect these important development gains from backsliding. By supporting the PNH, we support the work of more than 70 national and international organizations to save lives, protect the most vulnerable and lay the foundations for recovery and reconstruction.

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