The United Nations, Red Cross and other foreign nongovernment organizations have sent teams to provinces hit hardest by Typhoon Odette over the weekend.
The humanitarian assessment teams sent reports and images of “utter devastation” are “heartbreaking,” Gustavo Gonzalez, UN resident coordinator and humanitarian coordinator in the Philippines, said.
“Our deepest sympathies go out to those who lost so much, including loved ones.
“On behalf of the UN and the Humanitarian Country Team, our message to the people of the Philippines is one of solidarity and support.”
Geneva-based International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) also launched an Emergency Appeal for 20 million Swiss francs (P1.08 billion) to fund urgent relief and longer term recovery efforts for around 1.8 million Filipinos affected by the typhoon.
“People affected by typhoon Rai need urgent help…We call on all to show solidarity to the Philippines in this hour of need,” Jagan Chapagain, the secretary-general of the IFRC, wrote in his Twitter.
Gonzalez said UN agencies, NGOs and private sector partners in the Philippines are now coordinating to meet the “immediate needs in shelter, health, food, protection, and other life-saving responses.”
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is also talking with the Philippine government to “ensure we provide timely support and are fully mobilized in addressing critical gaps and the needs of the most vulnerable.”
The OCHA teams came from Siargao island where Typhoon Odette made its first landfall on December 16 and posted videos and photos of destruction in the surfing capital of the Philippines.
Gonzalez said one of the priority needs include food, clean water, temporary shelter, fuel, hygiene kits, medical supplies and protection services.
A team from the International Organization for Migration also went to Maasin City in Southern Leyte.
Kristin Dady, IOM Chief of Mission, reported that 90 percent of houses in Maasin were severely damaged, and that urgent needs are food, shelter, electricity, and hygiene kits.
IOM is teaming up with US Agency for International Development, World Food Programme and the Foreign Ministry of Germany.
The European Humanitarian Aid has also sent a humanitarian expert to Bohol in Central Visayas.
National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Assistant Secretary Casiano Monilla said the UN has sent a letter offering technical expertise and other help that they can offer from their available resources in the Philippines. The NDRRMC has not yet responded to the letter.
In a briefing, Monilla said, the Philippine government has not officially sought the help of foreign governments.
Gonzalez, meanwhile, commended the first responders led by the Armed Forces, Red Cross, and those involved in evacuation, search and rescue despite the “very difficult circumstances and logistics.”
Image courtesy of OCHA