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With diseases looming, UN launches flash appeal for Philippines flood victims

With diseases looming, UN launches flash appeal for Philippines flood victims

Boy with bag of food relief in ravaged town of Infanta
With communicable diseases including malaria and diarrhoea threatening the lives of 3.6 million victims of recent storms and landslides in the Philippines, the United Nations today launched a $6.4 million flash appeal to meet the emergency needs of the most vulnerable for the next three months.

“Emergency rehabilitation activities require immediate support in order to restore provision of life-sustaining services,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said of the appeal launched in Manila, the Philippines’ capital.

Continued delivery of relief supplies is crucial for those areas still isolated by the landslides and flash floods caused by four consecutive typhoons and tropical storms in the past month which left 1,060 people dead, 1,023 injured, 559 missing in the northeast – and 880,000 displaced.

Priority items are food, potable water, paediatric medicines, sanitation and shelter material. Repair of damaged and destroyed bridges and roads as well as the restoration of electricity would speed the delivery of relief goods and facilitate local recovery, OCHA said. As the majority of the items requested are available in the country, donors are asked to respond with cash contributions.

“The disruption of access to safe drinking water and the breakdown of waste management represent a major threat to health, and the risk of outbreaks of water-borne diseases is looming,” OCHA added.

The UN World Health Organization (WHO) said diarrhoeal diseases and upper respiratory infections required urgent attention. There is also an increased risk of an outbreak of malaria, as it is endemic in the country and standing water increases the likelihood of an outbreak of vector- and water-borne diseases.

“This has been a terrible tragedy, and its impact is felt even more in this period just before the holidays,” said the agency’s country representative, Jean-Marc Olivé. “The priority now, from WHO’s perspective, is to safeguard the health of survivors and to rehabilitate public health services. This task will demand considerable funds and great commitment from all involved.”

UN agencies involved in the appeal include the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), WHO, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT).