News / Asia

UNHCR Provides Emergency Shelter to Philippine Flood Victims

An aerial view shows damage caused by floods following Typhoon Washi in Iligan City, in the southern island of Mindanao, Philippines, December 19, 2011.
An aerial view shows damage caused by floods following Typhoon Washi in Iligan City, in the southern island of Mindanao, Philippines, December 19, 2011.
Lisa Schlein

The UN refugee agency is planning to fly urgently needed relief supplies to the Philippines’ flood-devastated island of Mindanao, where a weekend storm killed more than 1,000 people and left thousands more homeless.

For years, the UN refugee agency has been assisting refugees, asylum seekers, displaced and stateless people in Mindanao, where Moro Islamic rebels have been fighting for self-determination for about four decades. It normally does not assist victims of natural disaster.

However, UNHCR spokesman Andrej Mahecic said that in recent years the agency has been responding to people affected by natural disasters, as well as conflict in some countries where it already has a presence. He said the agency is well placed to do this because of its expertise in handling emergency situations.

“So, it was natural that we would offer our assistance and help those who have suffered this additional setback," said Mahecic. "So we are now in the process of rushing an airlift, which will basically carry a lot of shelter material, including plastic tarpaulins and household items - the items that most of the people have lost in the floods that devastated Mindanao Island. And, also we will provide enough material to shelter at least 10,000 people.”  

Tropical storm Washi, as it is called, hit Mindanao on Saturday, causing flash floods that washed away riverside slum communities in two main cities. Government relief officials put the number of dead on Wednesday at more than 1,000 and said almost 340,000 people are affected. Some communities have lost everything.

The UNHCR reports more than 7,000 houses were destroyed or severely damaged, and more than 42,000 people are crammed into overflowing evacuation centers.  

Mahecic said most of the UNHCR’s work on Mindanao is aimed at helping communities affected by conflict to find shelter and then, if possible, return to their homes. In addition, he said the agency funds relatively low-cost projects to make sure that once the people go home, they stay home.

“So, in some ways there will be a similar process now that the storm is over. People will want to go home as soon as possible and clearly we also want to assist if necessary in that process because we do have some in that,” said Mahecic.

The UNHCR operation is part of a larger United Nations response to the crisis in Mindanao. The World Food Program will provide food assistance and other support to the 235,000 worst-affected people.

The World Health Organization, meanwhile, is sending mosquito nets to evacuation centers to protect people against malaria. It also is setting up a disease surveillance system. The UN Children’s Fund is supporting water and sanitation needs.




You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs