Philippines - IOM has distributed critical humanitarian assistance to families displaced by Tropical Storm Washi (known locally as Sendong) in the southern Philippines and has begun essential work to improve the living conditions of the displaced sheltering in evacuation centres. A first batch of 255 shelter repair kits were distributed to families with partially damaged houses in Barangay Iponan in Cagayan de Oro and in Barangay Santiago in Iligan City. Both were among the areas worst hit by the flash floods triggered by Sendong.
With EUR 700,000 from the Humanitarian Aid Department of the European Commission (ECHO), IOM will provide shelter repair assistance to up to 1,894 families in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities, and also upgrade the facilities of 17 evacuation centres where thousands of families have been forced to live in difficult conditions.
The distribution comes as classes resumed in Philippine public schools, emphasizing the need to decongest the already crowded schools converted into evacuation centres.
"There is an urgent need to provide displaced families who can return to their places of origin not identified as permanent danger zones with materials to repair their homes and to promote the safe and voluntary return to either places of origin or to move to alternative sites," says IOM Emergency Programme Manager Dave Bercasio. "The shelter materials will help to improve living conditions and promote a sense of normalcy in their lives."
At the Macasandig Covered Courts, among the largest evacuation sites in Cagayan de Oro City, IOM has completed the construction of bathing cubicles and bed kits. An upgrade of facilities is also underway at the North City Central Elementary School.
"The facilities currently being used as evacuation centres are not equipped to handle the number of people who have sought refuge in these areas. There is a need to carry out repairs and upgrade facilities as well as support their maintenance to promote safe and humane living conditions within these sites," Bercasio adds.
Aside from the shelter kits, IOM has distributed over 1,600 non-food item kits consisting of sleeping mats, mosquito nets and jerry cans and is preparing to build 46 bunkhouses to accommodate 230 families at the Lumbia relocation site in Cagayan de Oro. The Organization has also started construction of two multi-purpose halls at the Calaanan relocation site.
IOM is also assisting local social workers in gathering information to identify families who are in need of permanent relocation and who cannot return to areas declared as geo-hazard zones.
Sendong struck the southern Philippines on 16 December 2011 triggering flash floods as many people slept in their homes. The storm dumped about 142 millimetres of rain in a span of 12 hours. Thousands of homes were swept away and more than 1,000 people killed. Philippine disaster officials estimate that over 700,000 people have been affected by the floods.
IOM has provided assistance to the Philippine government with its Typhoon Emergency Response Programme since 2009 when a series of typhoons struck the country. In particular, the Organization supports the government in rolling out and coordinating efforts within the Camp Coordination and Camp Management and Non-Food Item humanitarian response sectors.
IOM's projects facilitate the re-establishment of humane living conditions through repair and rebuilding of shelters, as well as disaster risk reduction through "build back better" approaches.
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