Image Source: nydailynews.com
Image Source: nydailynews.com

MANILA — United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has pledged full support by the UN for the recovery and reconstruction efforts of the Philippine government, saying the world body’s various humanitarian agencies will continue to help restore normal economic and social conditions in areas devastated by super typhoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan) last month.

“I have come to the Philippines to show solidarity with the government and people of the Philippines so hard hit by typhoon Yolanda,” Secretary-General Ban said in a press conference which was attended by Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and held in Makati City.

Ban said he was “deeply moved and also inspired” during his visit on Saturday (Dec. 21) to Tacloban City, which suffered the brunt of the strongest storm to slam land, killing 6,000 people and rendering millions homeless.

“I am very impressed by the strong resilience of the Filipino people,” the UN Secretary-General said.

He further noted that people in the hard-hit areas who have suffered so much from the typhoon continue to be motivated to start life anew.

“Whatever they could do, they would do it,” said Ban. “People are working hard to recover.”

Saying that the world “must not allow this to be another forgotten crisis,” he vowed that the UN will fully support the Philippine government’s efforts, including its four-year reconstruction plan (costing $8.17 billion) which was launched last Dec. 18.

The plan aims to “restore the economic and social conditions of the affected areas at the very least to pre-typhoon levels and to create a higher level of disaster resilience.”

Towards that end, he said, the UN and its partners have launched a one-year $791 million Strategic Response Plan.

Even as he expressed his gratitude to the armed forces of 25 nations “which played a vital role in overcoming the initial logistical hurdles to delivering humanitarian assistance,” Ban appealed to the international community to increase their support to help the Philippines recover.

“I urge all donors to add to their already generous response so that we can help communities to build back better and safer,” he said.

He also said more help is needed to provide food, shelter, medical supplies and housing to the 14 million people dislocated by “Yolanda.”

“That’s why I am appealing to the international community to speed up and scale up their support to the Philippine government,” said Ban.

He reported that he had met with the ambassadors of key donors stationed in the Philippines to call on them to “add to their already generous assistance” to the Philippines and to the UN appeal.

Ban said he also met with all the representatives of UN humanitarian agencies in the Philippines and asked them “to work as one team” so that they will be able to meet the expectations of the typhoon victims.

So far, the UN secretary-general said, there has been excellent cooperation between the UN and its partners and the Philippines authorities at every level as deliveries of much-needed relief aid to the typhoon victims have been scaled up significantly.

Ban said more than four million affected people have already received food assistance.

He said 100,000 hygiene kits and 65,000 water kits have been distributed, and 30 water treatment units are in place.

Furthermore, more than 200,000 households have received emergency shelter, and cash assistance has been provided to help people rebuild destroyed houses.

In addition, more than 180 foreign and national medical teams have provided emergency health aid and nearly 260 mobile clinics are now functioning.

Also, Ban reported that more than 40,000 children have been screened for acute malnutrition, while rice seeds have been distributed to more than 10,000 farming households.

“Our aim is to ensure that at least 72,000 hectares can be planted, so the vital upcoming 2014 harvest is not lost,” said Ban.

“The Philippines is among the most vulnerable nations to natural disasters,” he said. “But it is also showing leadership in improving preparedness and building resilience.” (Roy Mabasa, Manila Bulletin)