IOM Races to Provide Shelter Aid for Displaced Families in Southern Philippines

News and Press Release
Originally published

IOM is racing to provide emergency shelter for thousands of families displaced by the deadly tropical storm that hit the southern Philippines on December 17th.

Tropical storm Washi, known locally as Sendong, sent torrents of water, mud and logs cascading through villages and two major cities on the island of Mindanao, destroying nearly 13,000 homes and displacing some 400,000 people. At least 1,250 people are known to have died.

Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities, two of the hardest hit areas, are now struggling to provide shelter for over 10,000 families in 42 evacuation centres, according to the Philippines Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

"Right now we are focusing on three main priorities identified jointly with the DWSD and our partner agencies in the camp coordination, camp management and emergency shelter clusters," says IOM Emergency Program Manager Dave Bercasio.

"The first is to identify and provide alternative spaces for displaced people sheltering in schools, so that classes can resume in January. The second is to provide emergency shelter materials for families who are willing and able to return to their home communities. And the third is to upgrade or repair evacuation centers that are not equipped to safely accommodate displaced people."

IOM, which has deployed 30 staff to the area, has now received US$ 1,000,000 from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and EUR 700,000 from the Humanitarian Aid Department of the European Commission (ECHO) earmarked for emergency shelter materials, camp coordination and camp management.

"This disaster has effectively left these people with nothing and the needs are huge. We are also hoping to receive additional funding from the United States and other international donors in the coming days," said IOM Philippines Chief of Mission Ovais Sarmad, speaking from Cagayan de Oro.

IOM is already distributing emergency shelter and non-food relief item kits, including plastic sheeting, sleeping mats, jerry cans and other essential items to families willing and able to return to their communities from evacuation centres.

At the same time, it has started repair work at the centers, where camp managers have identified water, sanitation and hygiene facilities as an urgent priority. It is currently constructing temporary bathing facilities in Macasandig Covered Courts - one of the largest evacuation centers in Cagayan de Oro, where 300 families are sheltering.

In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, as the IASC Cluster lead agency for Camp Coordination and Camp Management in Natural Disasters, IOM, immediately deployed teams to assess needs in evacuation centres, displacement sites and other affected communities.

It also participated in a joint assessment mission with government line agencies led by the Office of Civil Defense and the Mindanao Humanitarian Team (MHT).