Friday, November 15, 2013

UN exec alarmed over grim condition in Yolanda-hit areas, hastens aid delivery

UN exec alarmed over grim condition in Yolanda-hit areas, hastens aid delivery

By Nestor Corrales
2:51 pm | Thursday, November 14th, 2013

United Nations Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos AP FILE PHOTO
MANILA, Philippines – The grim condition in Yolanda-devastated areas in the Visayas has prompted the United Nations team to speed up the delivery of relief aids, the UN Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos  said on Wednesday. 

Amos visited Tacloban to see first-hand the severity of the region-wide crisis.
“The city was completely devastated,” said Amos making relief aid more difficult due to debris and clogged roads, bad weather, and fuel shortage. 

The UN said the situation was dismal.  “Tens of thousands of people are living in the open or sheltering in the remains of their homes and badly damaged buildings exposed to rain and winds,” Amos said in a press conference.  Amos stressed that medical facilities, clean water and basic sanitation are needed. 

According to Amos, there are still areas that have not been reached. People in those areas are in urgent need of relief aid, and she is hoping that the situation will change significantly in the next 48 hours. 

“Our job (UN) is to keep pushing for faster relief operations and I know the government is exactly doing the same,” Amos said.   She said there is no shortage of assets and relief aids. “The Philippines’ assets are complimented by foreign aids but distribution is really a problem,” Amos said. 

“We are considering air drops to areas where transportation has not been possible,” said David Carden, UN Head of Office of Coordination and Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the Philippines. 

In an interview on Radyo Inquirer 990AM on Wednesday, former Guian Mayor Annaliza Gonzales-Kwan said relief aids have not yet reached Guian in Eastern Samar and appealed to the national government to accelerate relief operations. 

Asked about this, Carden said, “We assure them relief goods will reach the victims as soon as transportation is made available.” 

Carden said there is a shortage of trucks to transport relief goods immediately but he said that a C-130 plane of the Philippine Air Force will fly to Guian to aid the victims. Carden added that relief operations will start after airports will open in Iloilo, Busuanga and other areas in Visayas. 

Meanwhile, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in the Philippines Luiza Carvalho said there have been incident reports of looting but said these are “common” incidents after a disastrous event. The recent earthquake, “habagat” and typhoons that battered our country aggravated the disaster said Carden. 

Amos said the government will create a team as part of the concrete plan to address disaster and relief operations. “Our authority is to make first to help those who are vulnerable,” Amos said.  She said a detailed reconstruction plan would take time up to six months.






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