Typhoon Bopha survivors in desperate situation as IOM, UN appeal for funds

from International Organization for Migration
Published on 11 Dec 2012

Many survivors of Typhoon Bopha are so desperate that they have departed from overcrowded and flooded emergency shelters and are now fending for themselves in their devastated, still flooded communities, according to IOM’s first Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) report.

This comes as IOM and the humanitarian community have launched an appeal for a major life-saving relief effort in the affected island of Mindanao.

Typhoon “Bopha,” the most southerly typhoon ever recorded in the Western Pacific, is the second typhoon in a year to make landfall in Mindanao - a troubling indicator of how climate change may be affecting the Philippines in unpredictable ways.

IOM is seeking $7 million out of a total UN consolidated appeal of $65 million.

When Typhoon Bopha made landfall a week ago, it cut a swathe of death and destruction through the Compostela Valley and Davao Provinces, where over 80 per cent of homes were destroyed.

Those who fled to emergency shelters are now trying to get home to salvage what is left of their destroyed houses and livelihoods. IOM has learned that twelve evacuation centers have closed in the past few days, as people left.

“The people in the shelters are surviving in difficult conditions and desperately need relief,” said José Pimentel, IOM’s Chief of Mission for the Philippines.

Evacuation centers are still badly flooded, long after the storm has passed, with children begging for food and holding up placards with “Somebody help us!” written on them,” he added.

Of 35 sites assessed, some 23 sites remain operational and are accommodating 1,985 families or 8,913 persons in desperate need of shelter according to IOM’s first Typhoon Bopha DTM report issued today.

Figures from the government’s National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) put at five million the number of people affected by the storm, with some 300,000 living in 484 evacuation centers.

The first humanitarian response many affected populations have seen is IOM staff making their assessments and erecting tents in the devastated landscape.

Many emergency shelters were badly affected by the storm, but some 295,000 people are still staying in them with no protection from the elements. The most pressing needs are for emergency shelter materials, potable water and adequate sanitation facilities, according to eyewitnesses.

IOM has been asked by the Philippines Government to provide a wide spectrum of urgently needed humanitarian relief. This includes emergency shelter materials, health and psychosocial care, as well as an information coordination system to ensure that the survivors are kept well informed about the progress of the aid effort and to avoid a build up of frustration.

As the extent of damage becomes clear, the count has gone up exponentially to some 115,000 homes damaged or destroyed. Along with damaged evacuation shelters, 90% of buildings in at least three municipalities of Davao Oriental are without roofs.

Since the storm struck, IOM has mobilized its staff in Mindanao, prioritizing the distribution of non-food relief items and shelter repair materials. Bunkhouses and alternative transitional shelters have already been prepared.

The psychological shock from the typhoon remains considerable and large swathes of Mindanao have been declared “danger zones.” Communities face great uncertainty about their future and the need for clear and consistent communication is paramount.

IOM has proposed a comprehensive media and communication strategy, starting with camp managers. Coordinated messages will be reinforced with print media, radio and SMS push campaigns. Feedback from the population will be encouraged through a call center and crowdsourcing of information to highlight gaps and needs.

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