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Typhoons present "greatest humanitarian challenge in recent history"

A distraught looking young girl and her mother join a food distribution line for flood victims in Manila. The World Food Programme (WFP) says the country is facing its toughest humanitarian challenge so far with many areas remain cut off by flooding and l
(Jason Gutierrez/IRIN)

Pummelled by back-to-back typhoons and facing another, the Philippines is experiencing its toughest humanitarian challenge in recent history, Josette Sheeran, Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), said on 23 October.



The agency is providing "critical" food support to more than one million of the eight million people hit by tropical storm Ketsana and Typhoon Parma, which destroyed swathes of agricultural land, drowned significant parts of Manila and nearby provinces and caused deadly landslides in mountainous regions in the north.



According to the country’s National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC), the estimated cost of damage was about US$700 million, with many roads and bridges destroyed and buildings still submerged, particularly around Manila.



It said 186,416 people remained in 435 evacuation centres in Manila and northern Luzon provinces, although thousands had opted to stay in their partly submerged homes and were difficult to reach.



The Philippines had been struggling to provide assistance to those affected, Sheeran said, but with the "severe humanitarian impact" of the typhoons, its people were "now facing one of the greatest challenges in memory".






























Read more
 Bracing for Typhoon Lupit
 UN to revise flash appeal
 Pregnant women vulnerable in evacuation camps
 Massive flooding brings fresh crisis
 Flash appeal for $74 million amid food shortage concerns
 Rice crop badly damaged after massive flooding
 Flood survivors face misery and hardship

To date, the agency has airlifted about 5,000MT of food and relief items to the country, including rice, oil and high-energy biscuits imported from Turkey and Ecuador that could help provide nutrients to children and mothers vulnerable in evacuation camps.



Additional pledges were being received from France, Luxembourg, Poland and Germany, Sheeran said, stressing, however, that more international help was needed.



Targets revised



Kenro Oshidari, WFP Regional Director for Asia, said the UN food agency would have to revise upwards its targets in the next six months, stressing that the initial delivery of food was only meant for survivors of Ketsana.



And with Parma destroying acres upon acres of farmlands planted with corn and rice in the north, additional support would be needed for about half a million farmers whose crops had been inundated.



"The water, even after some four weeks, has not receded in many places, including rice fields. This really worries us because it is supposed to be harvest season and a lot of farmers have lost their crops.












Manila - A father carries his daughter on his back as they wade through putrid, brown flood water in suburban Pasig district in Manila. At least 246 people were killed by tropical storm Ketsana on 26 September

A father carries his daughter on his back as they wade through putrid, brown flood water in suburban Pasig district in Manila.
Jason Gutierrez/IRIN
Manila - A father carries his daughter on his back as they wade through putrid, brown flood water in suburban Pasig district in Manila. At least 246 people were killed by tropical storm Ketsana on 26 September
http://www.irinnews.org/photo/
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Graves dégâts dans les rizières suite aux fortes inondations
Manila - A father carries his daughter on his back as they wade through putrid, brown flood water in suburban Pasig district in Manila. At least 246 people were killed by tropical storm Ketsana on 26 September


Photo: Jason Gutierrez/IRIN
Parma and Ketsana left 929 people dead and more than 8.7 million people affected, the NDCC reported on 23 October

"We may have to provide recovery assistance for roughly six months for these farmers," Oshidari said, adding that further assessments would have to be made to determine exactly how many would need extended recovery assistance. "We may also have to revise upwards our plan of assistance to reach more people."



Preparing for Lupit



Meanwhile, thousands of residents living along coastal areas and mountainous areas in northern Luzon have been told to evacuate to safer areas as rescue and relief officials prepare for Typhoon Lupit, expected to make landfall in northern Luzon on 25 October.



Its wide outer rain bands have begun affecting the north, and at least 182 people living in a coastal area in Aparri town were evacuated after a 20m storm surge destroyed a protective dyke.



The government had earlier delivered more than 100,000kg of food and relief items in anticipation of Lupit's arrival.



President Gloria Arroyo said government was prepared for Lupit, stressing that police and the military were on standby.



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This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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