UN Coordination Director Calls on Strengthening Emergency Preparedness
(Manila/Bangkok/Geneva, 12 November 2012): Director of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Rashid Khalikov concluded his visit to the Philippines today calling on continued efforts to advance emergency preparedness.
The mission travelled to Cagayan de Oro City in northeastern Mindanao where Tropical Storm Sendong swept through entire villages in December 2011. Flash floods and landslides displaced over 400,000 people and destroyed 40,000 homes along with vast tracts of farming land. He met with villagers who described the long process towards re-establishing their livelihoods, and spoke with government representatives who are working with international and national NGOs on the recovery efforts.
Although there have been challenges identifying suitable land, the donor support for housing construction has been strong. Nearly a year on, less than 14,000 people remain in evacuation centres and transitory sites in the hardest hit cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro.
“I am encouraged to see how past experience is guiding future planning,” noted Mr. Khalikov. “It is good to see the efforts being made by the national and local authorities to address the current needs and to prepare for disasters, both natural and man-made, and the work that UN agencies and NGOs are doing in support.”
Mr. Khalikov also visited a transitional shelter in Maguindanao province in central Mindanao, which houses people who have been displaced by the conflict in 2008. Fighting had forced about 750,000 people to flee their homes. Some of the displaced families said insecurity was the main reason preventing them from returning to their villages.
“We are confident that the peace process and the work that international and local partners are doing will pave the way for the safe and dignified settlement of these people. Stability is essential for the economic and social development of the region,” said the Director.
The Humanitarian Action Plan for 2013, which is being finalised by the United Nations and its partners in the Philippines, aims to support national and local efforts to address the most critical humanitarian needs, and help build the resilience of communities and families who have been affected by natural disasters and conflict.
In his meetings with representatives from the Government, international and national NGOs,
Mr. Khalikov stressed that “true preparedness comes from all levels and all directions – from the government to the village. There is no doubt that preparedness saves lives.”
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