UN, foreign gov’ts remember victims of Typhoon Yolanda

By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora

November 8, 2023, 9:47 pm

<p>Aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda that hit the Philippines on Nov. 8, 2013<em> (File photo)</em></p>

Aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda that hit the Philippines on Nov. 8, 2013 (File photo)

MANILA – The United Nations and other foreign governments joined the Philippines in commemorating the victims of the devastating Super Typhoon Yolanda that struck the Philippines and killed thousands 10 years ago.

“We remember the lives that were lost and disrupted and extend our gratitude once again to the Philippine government and humanitarian partners for their support and collaboration, which played a crucial role in efforts to assist those affected by the super typhoon,” the Philippines Humanitarian Country Team (HCT), under the leadership of the UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator Gustavo Gonzalez, said in a statement on Wednesday.

Yolanda battered the Philippines on November 8, 2013 and left over 6,300 people dead and thousands of families displaced.

Over 16 million people were affected in 41 provinces across nine regions.

In the immediate aftermath, the HCT said it helped coordinate assistance provided by international and national partners between November 2013 to August 2014.

A total of 3.7 million people received food assistance, 2.3 million children were vaccinated, 110 local government units were given improved vaccine cold chain facilities; more than a million received cash aid and various assistance; and thousands were housed in emergency shelters, among others.

Beyond these, the HCT members continued to provide support to restore livelihoods as well as local institutions and public services for recovery.

Climate resilient and gender sensitive evacuation centers, and resilient permanent housing for displaced families were also provided.

“Today, we commemorate the resilience and strength of the Filipino people, who have rebuilt their lives and communities in the face of adversity. We must continue to learn from the lessons of Haiyan to better prepare for future disasters made even more challenging by climate change,” Gonzalez said.

“Together with the government, we are committed to investing in disaster risk reduction and innovative solutions such as anticipatory action and to deepening our collaboration in building a more resilient Philippines,” he added.

‘Foreign gov’t aid’

The European Union, the United States, Canada, France, Japan, China, Australia, the United Kingdom, India, and Israel were among the many embassies that also paid respect to the victims of the typhoon.

In a post on X, the European Union Delegation in Manila said it has provided EUR40 million in humanitarian assistance and early recovery interventions to help those affected.

Including the assistance from other EU Member States, the total EU aid amounts to over EUR180 million.

The United States in an X post also recalled its humanitarian and development aid totaling USD143 million, which supported the procurement of critical food, health, shelter, water, and hygiene support.

The US military supported the US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) response by airlifting critical relief supplies to communities cut off by the storm.

Coordination between the US military and the Philippine Air Force also enabled Tacloban Airport to reopen after sustaining severe damage, allowing the rest of the world to help provide support.

“Ten years after Haiyan, USAID remembers the lives lost and upended by this catastrophe and reaffirms our commitment to work to harness that matatag spirit of community in the Philippines in years to come,” the USAID said in a statement.

Canadian Ambassador David Hartman, meanwhile, paid his respect to the Filipino people while giving assurance that Ottawa would “always stand by” its allies in their time of need.

From 2015 to 2019, Canada supported the long-term economic growth and recovery of thousands of small businesses and households in Leyte and Eastern Samar.

The Canadian government at that time initiated a matching fund and within days Canadians donated CAD85 million. The Canada’s Disaster Assistance Response Team consisted of 319 personnel, C-17 Globemaster aircraft, Griffon helicopters, construction vehicles, and a Red Cross Field Hospital.

The French Embassy in Manila, meanwhile, hailed the “resilience and the spirit of unity” that followed after the disaster and reiterated France’s continuous support to those affected by natural disasters in the Philippines and worldwide.

Through the French NGO ACTED Philippines, the French Development Agency (AFD), and French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the Philippines, France in 2017 helped complete new homes for 126 families.

In February 2015, French President François Hollande visited Tacloban and Guian (Leyte and Samar provinces), to express support in the aftermath of the disaster.

As part of his visit to the Philippines, former President Benigno Aquino III and Hollande launched the Manila Call to Action, a crucial step towards the mobilization of all stakeholders for the Paris Climate Summit COP 21 the same year. (PNA)