OCHA operations director: Phenomenal response mobilized in the Philippines but we need to do more, faster, better

from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 15 Nov 2013

(New York, 15 November 2013) OCHA Operations Director, John Ging, told media today that one week after Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines, nearly 13 million people are estimated to have been affected, with 1.9 million displaced. He said that despite the obstacles, including blocked roads and damaged communications networks, the emergency response by all partners is coming together to get to the scale and speed that people so desperately need.

“A phenomenal crisis – unprecedented in many ways, in terms of its scale and the logistical complexity – is being met with a phenomenal response. Phenomenally generous on the part of the donor community, and phenomenally committed on the part of humanitarian organizations, who have mobilized in a large way with the expertise to respond,” said Mr. Ging. “We are inspired by the resilience, stoicism, and the courage of the people who have lost so much and are suffering so much. We must do more, do faster, do better, to help them.”

Mr. Ging praised the outstanding response of the Philippines authorities, noting that despite the incredible challenges and the fact that their own staff have been caught up in the crisis across the affected areas, they have been able to mobilize and compensate for that.

He said the humanitarian agencies are focused on getting people clean drinking water through UNICEF and partners; food, including large quantities of high-energy biscuits shipped by the World Food Programme, and shelter materials to help people protect themselves from the elements, being mobilized by UNHCR, IOM and others.

Mr. Ging spoke about the vital partnerships helping to rapidly mobilize help and thanked military partners, both the Philippines and the international militaries, who bring essential logistical capacity, particularly air assets like fixed-wing planes and helicopters.

Applauding donors for their very generous and quick response to the appeal that the Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos launched earlier this week in Manila, where she asked for US$301 million, John Ging said, “We have received $74 million for the appeal so far. There has been a total of $161 million donated for the Philippines that we have been able to track. Some of that is for organizations like the Red Cross and other humanitarian partners outside the appeal.”

When sudden crises like these occur, the humanitarian community needs very fast mobilization of additional resources to enable us to get the supplies that we need to respond. “We don’t have warehouses packed with full with huge quantities of supplies. We are hand to mouth in so many crises, whether it is in the Sahel, where over half a million children are dying every year because of malnutrition, or the Syria crisis, which is half funded – we are stretched to the limit,” warned Mr. Ging.

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