Activities of Secretary-General in Philippines, 20-22 December 2013

6 January 2014

Activities of Secretary-General in Philippines, 20-22 December 2013

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, late in the evening on Friday, 20 December, and was greeted upon his arrival at the airport by Albert F. del Rosario, Secretary for Foreign Affairs.

The Secretary-General began the morning of Saturday, 21 December, with a breakfast with the United Nations Country and Humanitarian Teams in the country.  He received an update on the Organization’s efforts to promote recovery in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, known locally as Yolanda, which was one of the most powerful storms ever recorded.

He then met with President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III.  The Secretary-General noted the excellent cooperation in humanitarian and recovery efforts among the Government of the Philippines, humanitarian organizations and the United Nations country team, adding that the United Nations will continue to support the Government-led response.

He also expressed his appreciation for the Philippines' contribution to United Nations peacekeeping missions, particularly in the Golan Heights and South Sudan.

In the afternoon, the Secretary-General — together with several Government officials, including the Ministers for Health and Social Welfare, as well as the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery – visited Tacloban, where he saw first hand the devastation caused by the typhoon.

While in the city, one of the hardest hit by the disaster, the Secretary-General visited a school where children sang Christmas carols and he handed out school supplies.

He also stopped in a village, where he met with people whose homes were destroyed by the typhoon.

Speaking to the press there, the Secretary-General said that he was deeply saddened and by what he had seen, adding that he was very impressed by the resilience of the people of the Philippines.

“My message to the Filipino people is:  never despair,” he said.  “The United Nations is behind you.  The world is behind you.”

Upon returning to Manila in the early evening, the Secretary-General was interviewed by the reporter Jessica Soho of GMA TV.

The following morning, Sunday, 22 December, the Secretary-General met with members of the diplomatic corps stationed in the Philippines over breakfast.

His last engagement in the country was a joint press conference with Mr. del Rosario, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs.

The Secretary-General expressed his grave concern over the deteriorating security situation in South Sudan, demanding that all political, military and militia leaders stop hostilities and end the violence against civilians.

On the typhoon in the Philippines, he said that we must not allow this to be another forgotten crisis.  “The Philippines is among the most vulnerable nations to natural disasters,” the Secretary-General said.  “But, it is also showing leadership in improving preparedness and building resilience.”

The Secretary-General arrived back in New York in the evening of Sunday, 22 December.

For information media. Not an official record.