By TESSA JAMANDRE
JAPAN donated Saturday $4.2 million for the victims of Tropical Storm “Ondoy” (Ketsana) and Typhoon “Pepeng” (Parma), the largest donation so far by a single country to the Philippines.
Japan’s donation was a response to the Philippine Flash Appeal launched Wednesday at the Sofitel Hotel by the United Nations and was channeled through the UN World Food Programme.
WFP Country Director Stephen Anderson said the UN has confirmed a total of $10 million in contributions and pledges. He said the response of the international community to the UN’s appeal in behalf of the Philippines has been very encouraging.
The UN Office for Coordination and Humanitarian Affairs placed the number of people affected by the massive flooding triggered by Ondoy at 3.9 million people or (805,740 families) with 295 confirmed deaths and 39 others still missing. A total of 335,740 people are being served in 559 evacuation shelters.
The National Disaster Coordinating Council has yet to consolidate reports on the damage wrought by Pepeng after it made its second and third landfall in Northern Luzon. Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro said the needs assessment will follow as the NDCC is still on immediate emergency response mode.
Initial data available on the effects of Pepeng indicate that more than 68,589 people or some 14,000 families were affected, with 35,543 of them in 188 evacuation centers according to DSWD. This, however, does not include the flooding incidents in Northern and Central Luzon as well as the landslides that killed over a hundred in Benguet alone.
As of Oct. 10, the NDCC recorded the number of Pepeng’s casualties at 299 with 184 deaths, 75 others injured and 40 still missing.
A flash appeal is a mechanism under the UN that provides a framework for assistance to a catastrophic emergency or disaster that is beyond the capacity of the national government to handle. Under this mechanism for the Philippines, UN agencies will deal with the requirements and programs proposed by an assigned government agency as its counterpart.
The UN agencies will cluster of key sectors of responses such as food, water sanitation and hygiene, health, shelter, camp coordination and camp management, logistics and emergency telecommunications, education, child protection, nutrition, early recovery and agriculture.
The UN’s Flash Appeal for the Philippines will run for six months to support the Philippine government, the international humanitarian community, including NGO’s, the International Organization for Migration and UN Agencies in seeking $74,021,809.
The areas targeted by the Flash Appeal will be the National Capital Region and Region 4-A to address the immediate needs of about 1 million of the 2.5 million affected population that the government reported to have been affected by the tropical storm and floods.
Before the Flash Appeal was launch, several countries had directed their donations in cash and goods to the government and the Philippine National Red Cross. But after the UN launched the Flash Appeal, Korea and Brazil committed to contributing to UN’s effort to consolidate foreign relief assistance through the UN channel.
Brazil’s pledge was read during the launch in Manila, while Korea manifested support through its embassy official.
The Thai government also indicated its intent of sending 100,000 MT of rice, medical supplies and a medical team.
World Bank, through its representative, also expressed willingness to extend assistance together with other international financial institutions particularly in the rehabilitation and reconstruction phase while it requested a clear needs assessment by the UN agencies and Philippine disaster officials.
Other countries that have so far pooled to aid the Philippines include the U.S., Italy, the European Union and some of its member states like Spain, France Germany and Switzerland, China, Australia, Singapore and Indonesia.
Also only after the UN launched the Flash Appeal for the Philippines did U.S. President Barrack Obama’s condolences come.
In a statement, Obama expressed the deep condolences of the American people for the devastation and loss of life caused particularly by Ondoy.
Obama said he and First Lady Michelle felt great sorrow not only for the hundreds who died resulting from the flooding but for the hundreds of thousands more who have been displaced.
“As a longstanding friend and partner of the Philippines, we stand ready to continue our cooperation and assistance in the coming days,” Obama said in a statement issued in Washington on Wednesday.
Obama had expressed the U.S.’ sympathy to Samoa and Indonesia right after a tsunami killed over a hundred in Samoa and 704 in the Sumatra quake. His statement to the Philippines, however, came two weeks after Ondoy struck.