15 November 2013
Press Conference

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference on Humanitarian Situation in Philippines Following Typhoon Haiyan


The humanitarian community’s response and commitment in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan had been phenomenal despite overwhelming challenges, John Ging, a senior humanitarian official said today at a press conference at United Nations Headquarters.


Mr. Ging, Director of Operations for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said the Typhoon had left a large trail of destruction across the Philippines.  “Currently, 13 million were affected, 1.9 million displaced and 3,600 people have died”, he added.


He applauded the international community for their support to a $301 million appeal launched in Manila, noting that $72 million had so far been received.  Furthermore, the OCHA official expressed his gratitude to the United States, United Kingdom, Israel, Malaysia, Australia, Japan and Sweden, and to other countries for their logistical support, humanitarian services and recovery efforts.  However, he stressed the need for a more sustained and collective response to helping those affected by the disaster to rebuild their lives.


Also present at the briefing was Ted Chaiban, Director of Emergency Programmes for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), who stated that the Typhoon had affected an estimated 5 million children and that the Fund’s emergency efforts were running non-stop.  “UNICEF staff were on the ground in Tacloban, Ormoc, Aklan and Capiz, and had set up field offices to render support to those affected,” Mr. Chaiban said.


UNICEF was gaining a clearer picture of the massive needs for clean water, food, essential medicines and sanitation for children in those affected communities, he said.  All of those items had become a top priority for the Fund.


Speaking on the issue of water, he said that those resources had been partially restored in Tacloban city and that would improve access to 200,000 people including children and women.  Furthermore, significant amounts of supplies had been delivered to the locality including water bladders, hygiene kits, toilet slabs, and water purifying tablets.  Through a partnership with Oxfam, hygiene kits were distributed in northern Cebu and, in cooperation with the Department of Public Works and Highways, sludge treatment facilities had been constructed and emergency latrines and mobile toilets deployed.


Responding to questions, Mr. Ging said that money was “grossly” needed to cope with humanitarian crises, not only in the Philippines, but across the world, noting that, “humanitarian activities were unfunded and funds were also needed to tackle the challenges.”  Funds were needed to secure relief supplies, and to stock them in warehouses across the world, so as to be well-prepared for natural disasters.  In addition, helicopters and other air transportation facilities were required to reach localities that were inaccessible by roads.


He commended the Gulf States for their generous donations during humanitarian appeals, and said that United Arab Emirates and Kuwait had contributed $10 million each for the Typhoon Haiyan appeal, while the Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, had travelled to the region to mobilize more support.


For his part, Mr. Chaiban said that UNICEF needed $61 million — which was part of the general $301 million appeal — to help children, adolescents and women with access to basic health services, childhood care, education, and to reunite displaced children with their families.  “It was critically important that the world does not forget the thousands of children and their families who remained in great need of support and recovery from the disaster,” he added.


On a separate item, Mr. Ging was asked about the polio vaccination campaign in Sudan’s South Kordofan and Blue Nile States.  The OCHA official said that he was pleased with the Government’s readiness to discuss the vaccination exercise with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N). 


“This is progress and we hope the Government and SPLM-N will meet soon, so as to allow us unfettered access to these areas, to administer vaccinations on 165,000 children in the two States and ensure that polio was totally wiped out from the world,” he said.


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For information media • not an official record