The crisis in the Philippines in the aftermath of two devastating storms that recently hit the country is not over, the United Nations humanitarian chief said today, as he appealed once again to donors to support the relief and recovery efforts.
“Even though the immediate effects of these typhoons have passed, we face many months of hard work, relief and recovery and reconstruction ahead. This crisis is by no means over. In some ways the hard work is just starting,” John Holmes told a news conference in the capital, Manila.
Mr. Holmes, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, wrapped up a two-day visit to see first-hand the emergency response to tropical storm Ketsana (also known as Ondoy), which made landfall on 26 September, and typhoon Parma, which struck a week later.
The two successive storms affected over 6 million people, killing more than 500 and displacing scores of thousands of others, and caused crop damage estimated at over $160 million.
The UN has secured financial commitments amounting to nearly $19 million, out of the $74 million flash appeal it issued last week for the storm victims.
Mr. Holmes also warned of the serious health threat posed by stagnant water in flooded communities, stressing that it is crucial to get rid of the water rather than waiting for it to recede on its own.
While in the Philippines, he met with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and other senior Government officials as well as UN humanitarian staff.
He also met with families living in evacuation centres and others still living in flooded areas in Pasig City, part of the Manila metropolitan area and one of the hardest-hit districts.