'Challenges are enormous': UN calls for P8.6-B more aid for Odette survivors

John Gabriel Agcaoili, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 02 2022 06:40 PM | Updated as of Feb 02 2022 10:15 PM

 Drone shot Val Cuenca, ABS-CBN News
Drone shot taken on Dec. 20, 2021 shows destruction in Dapa, Siargao, Surigao del Norte after Typhoon Odette made landfall on the island four days earlier. Val Cuenca, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The United Nations on Wednesday appealed for an additional $169 million or P8.6 billion to provide aid to residents of areas battered by Typhoon Odette (International name: Rai) more than a month ago.

In a statement, UN Philippines Resident Coordinator Gustavo Gonzalez said the additional amount will fall under the agency's newly-expanded Humanitarian Needs and Priorities Plan (HNP) that aims to help 840,000 people severely affected by Odette.

"This is up from 530,000 people targeted in the initial HNP released on 24 December 2021," Gonzalez said.

The intergovernmental organization earlier campaigned to raise $107.2 million or P5.4 billion in aid for Odette victims.

Gonzalez explained the target was revised after over 70 field assessments showed the typhoon's destruction was far worse than initially thought. 

The UN official noted that despite extensive and speedy response by government and non-government organizations, "humanitarian needs remain very high" in areas that experienced Odette's onslaught.

"Affected regions bore massive damage to infrastructure, agricultural land, and the fishing sector, with local economies and livelihoods hit hard," Gonzalez said.

Odette packed maximum sustained winds of nearly 200 kph at its peak when it hit parts of Visayas and Mindanao on Dec. 16 last year, leaving over 400 people dead and displacing millions.

A total of 334 cities and municipalities were also put under a state of calamity. It was the strongest typhoon to hit the country in 2021.

Based on UN data, nearly 144,000 people remain displaced, while 1.7 million houses, 16,000 schools and 330 health clinics were either damaged or destroyed.

Gonzalez said that over 10 million hectares of crops were also affected while 80 localities are still experiencing power outages or disruptions.

"Typhoon Rai aggravated a situation that was already fragile due to the pandemic, but it also hit some of the poorest areas of the country. The challenges are enormous and exceed the capacity of any one organization. Only by working hand in hand with the government and mobilizing the necessary resources can we ensure that these regions are not left behind," he said.

"I call on the international community to join and support our collective Humanitarian Needs and Priorities Plan."

Humanitarian groups have been working with government to distribute food, water, tents and materials to rebuild houses in Odette-hit areas.

However, the scale of the disaster, lack of power and communications in some areas, and depleted government coffers due to COVID-19 response have hobbled efforts to provide aid. 

An omicron-fueled surge in infections is also forcing relief workers into isolation and making travel more difficult in the country.


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