New York, Dec 23 IBNS | 10 months ago

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged the international community to scale up support for the massive typhoon recovery plan under way in the Philippines, where the Government-led effort that is helping millions of people rebuild their lives must be underpinned by measures to improve the country's preparedness and resilience to natural disasters.


"We must not allow this to be another forgotten crisis," said Ban during a press conference earlier Sunday in Manila with Albert F. Del Rosario, Secretary of Foreign Affairs. He added: "I have come ... to show solidarity with the Government and people of the Philippines."

The UN chief wrapped up his three-day visit to the country by calling on the donor community to step up support for an overall four year plan that will help to revive livelihoods and rebuild large swaths of the archipelago that were destroyed on 8 November when Super Typhoon Haiyan swept ashore, killing nearly 6,000 people and displacing millions more.

He said that Government's strategic plan, amounting to some USD 8.17 billion over four years, was launched on 18 December to guide the recovery and reconstruction in the affected areas. The plan aims to restore the economic and social conditions of the affected areas at the very least to pre-typhoon levels and to create a higher level of disaster resilience.

Pledging the UN's support to that overall strategy, the Secretary-General said the Organization and its partners have launched a one-year Strategic Response Plan for nearly USD 800 million dollars.

Yet, he told reporters, the UN appeal is thus far only 30 per cent funded, and he is appealing to the international community to "speed up and scale up support. The Philippines Government needs to help people [impacted by the storm] to mitigate and adapt to this tragedy."

Ban said he was deeply moved and inspired by his visit Saturday to Tacloban, which bore the brunt of the typhoon's fury. While the people were working hard to recover, he said that this morning, he met with key ambassadors stationed in the Philippines and explained the situation there, and urged donor countries to provide their generous support to the both the Philippines and the UN appeals.

Despite the devastation left in Haiyan's wake, the Philippines is showing leadership in improving preparedness and building resilience, Ban continued, applauding the excellent cooperation between the UN and its partners and the Philippines authorities at every level.

"Aid deliveries have been scaled up significantly. More than 4 million affected people have now received food assistance. Some 100,000 hygiene kits and 65,000 water kits have been distributed, and 30 water treatment units are in place. More than 200,000 households have received emergency shelter," the UN chief explained.

He went on to say that cash assistance has also been provided to help people rebuild damaged and destroyed houses. More than 180 foreign and national medical teams have provided emergency health aid and nearly 260 mobile clinics are now functioning. In addition, he said that more than 40,000 children have been screened for acute malnutrition.

"Rice seeds have been distributed to more than 10,000 farming households so far. Our aim is to ensure that at least 72,000 hectares can be planted, so the vital upcoming 2014 harvest is not lost, said the Secretary-General, noting that, in the longer term, the UN will continue to work with the Government on its development priorities.

Ban said that during his visit, he has also been able to discuss with President Aquino and Secretary Rosario other issues of national importance. To that end, he commended the Government's efforts to promote peace and democracy and inclusive growth.

"It is in this context that I congratulate the Government on progress in the Mindanao peace process, particularly the agreement reached between the parties in December. I hope a final agreement will be reached soon," he said.

(Posted on 23-12-2013)