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Philippines: UN dispatches disaster response official in wake of deadly storm

Philippines: UN dispatches disaster response official in wake of deadly storm

Police evacuate an elderly couple from a flooded section of a suburb east of Manila in the Philippines
The United Nations humanitarian wing has dispatched a disaster response official to the Philippines in the wake of this weekend’s deadly tropical storm, which has reportedly triggered some of the worst flooding in more than four decades and resulted in over 70 deaths and a rising number of missing and injured people.

Other aid staff in the UN country office will operate from the disaster operations centre in the coming days to ensure proper coordination with the Government, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said today.

A state of calamity has been declared in eight regions of the country, including the capital, Manila, where heavy downpours have inundated homes and uprooted people from their homes. Electricity outages, inaccessible roads and lack of communications are hampering the rescue and relief efforts, OCHA said.

Several UN agencies have begun responding in the wake of the disaster. The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has released 2,000 kits containing non-food items and is assessing the need for further kits and water and sanitation support.

The head of the World Food Programme (WFP) said that it will, as a first step, provide vital food rations to approximately 180,000 Filipinos in the worst-affected areas.

“I want to assure the people and Government of the Philippines of our support for food assistance as part of a swift and coordinated recovery effort,” Executive Director Josette Sheeran said in a statement.

On Sunday, WFP participated in a Government-organized helicopter fly-over of the worst-affected areas. A joint rapid needs assessment between the Government and UN agencies is currently under way.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) said it will provide, as an immediate response, $42,000 to support health needs in the wake of the storm.