Philippines: Red Cross extends assistance to people affected by Typhoon Melor

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The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has scaled up its humanitarian assistance to tens of thousands of families who have lost their homes and livelihoods after the onslaught of Typhoon Melor (local name: Nona).

The typhoon made landfalls over Northern Samar, Sorsogon, Masbate, Romblon and Oriental Mindoro provinces on 14 and 15 December. According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, 42 people died while 4 are still missing due to Melor. The typhoon also destroyed 98,371 houses and damaged 181,116 more, with an estimated damage to infrastructure and agriculture amounting to almost 6.5 billion Philippine pesos.

The accompanying northeast monsoon also caused widespread flooding and landslides, worsening the situation for many farming communities in Luzon that were still recovering from the impact of Typhoon Koppu last October.

"Following the emergency phase, the Red Cross is now moving into the early recovery phase, which we plan to concentrate in the three most affected provinces: Northern Samar, Sorsogon and Oriental Mindoro," explained Philippine Red Cross (PRC) chairman Richard Gordon. "In the recovery phase, Red Cross will provide cash grants, shelter repair assistance, and livelihood support based on detailed assessment reports from the ground."

During the emergency phase, the PRC served ready-to-eat meals to some 19,900 persons in evacuation centers while its social workers provided psychosocial support to 601 people and referral services to persons in evacuation centers through 31 welfare desks. The PRC also reached 466 individuals with psychosocial support.

As of this February, the PRC had reached at least 15,604 families across nine provinces with relief assistance (food packs, safe drinking water, 20-liter jerrycans, sleeping materials, hygiene kits and tarpaulins) in the provinces of Bulacan, Marinduque, Masbate, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Northern Samar, Pampanga, Romblon and Sorsogon.

The PRC has also mobilized 872 personnel comprising 136 staff members and 736 volunteers. To support the PRC in monitoring distributions, assessments, and planning for early recovery, the IFRC Country Office has deployed a field delegate, two PMER Officers, and Information Management and Communications support.

On December 22, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) launched an emergency appeal to seek 3.7 million Swiss francs to support the PRC in providing emergency aid to the most affected and most vulnerable families. So far, the IFRC appeal has supported PRC to provide essential emergency relief to 9,000 families. With its current funding, the IFRC appeal will also be able to support a further 1,200 families with shelter repair assistance and livelihoods cash grants for 800 families in the next 12 months.

"We lost our home and our livelihood," says Rochelle Andales, one of the beneficiaries from the town of Sta. Clara in Bobon, Northern Samar. "Our family is extremely grateful for all the immediate response and assistance we received from the Red Cross."

In cooperation with the PRC, the International Committee of the Cross (ICRC), working in areas affected by armed conflict, will provide food and livelihood support to some 10,000 affected families in Magallanes, Sorsogon, and Laoang, Biri, Palapag, Mapanas and Catubig municipalities in Northern Samar.

At an earlier stage, the ICRC supported the PRC Northern Samar chapter with 2,000 blankets and tarpaulins for 1,000 families, as well as food assistance to 10,000 families.

Close coordination is being maintained between the PRC, the IFRC, the ICRC and all Red Cross Red Crescent Movement partners with presence in the Philippines, notably the German Red Cross and the Netherlands Red Cross. Local governments of affected areas are working with the Red Cross regarding strategic planning and operation.