By Vatican News staff writer
Response efforts in the Philippines have been underway since the typhoon, known locally as Rolly, struck the archipelago on 1 November, leaving widespread devastation in its wake. Fully funded, the six-month response will support some 260,000 disaster-affected people, many of whom were already living in poverty prior to the disaster.
Solidarity and concrete help
Launching the appeal, Gustavo Gonzalez, the UN Resident Humanitarian Coordinator in the Philippines, said that with support from donors, the humanitarian community is ready to translate “solidarity into concrete support” through a coordinated response, combining emergency relief and early recovery.
“The UN and humanitarian partners in the Philippines are mobilizing all our resources to ensure that we leave no one behind at this time of great need,” he added.
The plan aims to deliver and implement humanitarian activities to typhoon-affected people living with poverty prior to the disaster and now requiring urgent humanitarian assistance in 16 prioritized municipalities in the worst-hit provinces of Catanduanes and Albay in support of the government response.
Extent of destruction
On Sunday, Gonzalez led an inter-agency team to Albay province to assess the damage. Speaking to local officials, frontline responders and affected people, he expressed deep concern for the thousands of families affected by the disaster. Thirty-two of the Philippines’ 81 provinces are affected, with Albay, Catanduanes, Camarines Sur and Quezon among the worst hit.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), more than 137,000 houses have been damaged or destroyed, and total infrastructure damage is estimated at $234 million. In addition, 67 health facilities and more than 1,000 schools, including those housing evacuees, have been damaged.
Typhoon Goni is the 18th storm to hit the Philippines this year. In October alone, the country was struck by four major weather events, including Typhoon Molave.
Typhoon, Covid-19 and the vulnerable
The impact of the natural disasters has been further compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has taken a heavy toll on the economy on top of public health consequences. Typhoon Goni has damaged the government’s main COVID-19 laboratory in Bicol, resulting in the suspension of testing. The UN and its partners have improvised ways to safeguard the safety, quality and timeliness of humanitarian response given the coronavirus pandemic.
Amidst the complex challenges, OCHA said children, women and girls (including pregnant and lactating women, and adolescent girls), persons with disabilities, older persons, LGBTIQ persons, and indigenous peoples are at greater risk of discrimination and exposure to sexual and gender-based violence. Their protection will be integrated across all response efforts, according to the response plan.