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January 04, 2013

Displaced Victims Of Philippines Typhoon Get Critical Aid

by Lisa Schlein

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is distributing essential non-food items to thousands of people displaced by last year's Typhoon Bopha in the southern Philippines. IOM said it soon will begin distributing emergency shelter kits to the displaced.

​​Typhoon Bopha struck the southern Philippines island of Mindanao on December 4, killing more than 1,000 people. The storm damaged or destroyed more than 200,000 homes and reportedly displaced at least 10,000 people to temporary shelters.

The International Organization for Migration said people living in the most remote parts of the typhoon-struck island are particularly disadvantaged.

It said many have received little relief due to the distance and difficulty of getting to these areas.

To alleviate this suffering, IOM is in the process of distributing vital non-food assistance to thousands of the most vulnerable victims of the disaster in these hard to reach places.

IOM spokesman, Jumbe Omari Jumbe, said aid workers currently are distributing family kits composed of cooking and kitchen utensils, bedding and flashlights to 1,160 families in the worst-hit Compostela Valley and Aqusan del Sur Provinces.

"After the initial non-food aid distribution, IOM is planning to start the distribution of 6,000 emergency shelter kits, which are currently on the way to the Philippines, as well as 16,000 solar lamps, which are vital for personal protection and for such tasks as enabling people, including women, to visit latrines at night and allowing children to do their homework," said Jumbe.  

Jumbe said the lack of sufficient latrines and availability of clean water can cause diseases, such as upper respiratory tract infections, diarrhea and skin infections.  Of greatest concern, he said, are people living in 13 sites, with little to no health services.  

IOM's humanitarian operation is targeted toward the most vulnerable families. The agency used a system it calls the Displacement Tracking Matrix to identify those people most in need of help.

Within days of the disaster, the agency said it used the Matrix to survey 38 sites with a population of nearly 10,000 people on a weekly basis.  

IOM's Jumbe said breastfeeding women, new mothers and large families are found to be at highest risk and in most need of assistance. He said they need water, supplementary feeding, better shelter and more latrines.  

IOM said mass lifesaving assistance has helped to stabilize populations. But now, one month after the disaster, it said families are more in need of individually tailored durable solutions to help them rebuild their lives.