x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

UN to appeal for new aid for Philippines

The UN will appeal for millions in fresh aid for the Philippines in addition to $44 million already pledged.

The UN will appeal for tens of millions in fresh aid for the Philippines in addition to $44 million already pledged for the Southeast Asian nation as it grapples with massive destruction from back-to-back storms, a top official said. A typhoon on the heels of last month's tropical storm triggered landslides and widespread flooding in the northern Philippines, killing at least 669 people since September 26.

About six million people have been affected and the cost of damage is estimated at $336 million, officials said. The UN flash appeal for $74m in aid for the Philippines has so far generated $19m, and another $25m has been committed separately, said John Holmes, the UN undersecretary for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief. The UN will revise the appeal in three to four weeks, and is ready to call for more aid after a final assessment of the extent of damage is made, he said. The amount of fresh aid needed remains unclear, but Mr Holmes said it was expected that a new appeal would target an additional tens of million of dollars.

He said he was impressed that major donors had maintained their humanitarian aid budget despite domestic pressures from the global economic crisis. "Even though the immediate effects of these typhoons have passed, we face many months of hard work, relief and recovery and reconstruction ahead," Mr Holmes said. "This crisis is by no means over, indeed in some ways hard work is just starting," he said. Aside from lifesaving assistance such as food, water, sanitation and health, he said the recovery phase had to start quickly in agriculture and other sectors.

Mr Holmes also called for a quicker way to remove floodwater still submerging communities near Manila because of the risk of disease. The Philippine crisis will likely reinforce focus on climate change with the idea of putting in place measures to adapt to extreme weather events, Mr Holmes said. *AP