Current estimates indicate that typhoon Haiyan has affected 13 million people across 41 provinces, representing over 10% of the country’s population, with up to 4 million people displaced. Official estimates indicate that at least 3,600 lives have been lost. However, it is likely that the full picture of the human cost of the disaster will only emerge in the coming days as relief teams get to remote areas which are without power and communications following one of the most powerful storms ever recorded.
Despite the many logistical challenges to the relief effort, the response of the international community has been rapid, with a large UN Disaster Assessment and Co-ordination, UNDAC, team and a team of experts from the European Commission’s Directorate for Humanitarian Assistance and Civil Protection, ECHO, being deployed to assist the national authorities to assess the impact of the disaster as early as Friday, 8 November.
A UN flash appeal was jointly launched by the United Nations and the Government of the Philippines on Tuesday, 12 November. This appeal calls for funding of just over US $300 million to cover immediate emergency relief and continued support for the affected populations in the coming six months. To date, US $78 million or 26% of the funds requested under this appeal have been received. Ireland will examine the potential for contributions, within our means, to the relief programmes identified within the appeal.
While the situation in the Philippines was not on the agenda for yesterday’s EU Foreign Affairs Council, the meeting did provide me with the opportunity to hear from my EU counterparts on the wider EU response to the crisis. In the light of her visit to the Philippines over the weekend, I also availed of the opportunity to receive a briefing from the European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection, Ms. Kristalina Georgieva, on her impressions of the situation and her views on the manner in which the response was being co-ordinated. My officials are in regular contact with ECHO and, in particular, the EU Emergency Response Centre. The European Union has made available €10 million in emergency funding to support the immediate relief efforts in the areas worst affected by the typhoon and pledged a further US$40 million in longer term development assistance to assist with the Philippines’ efforts to recover from this devastating disaster.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House
For our part, Ireland was among the first countries to respond to the disaster and, on the basis of pledges announced to date, our contribution currently stands as one of the highest amounts provided by a bilateral donor. On Sunday, 10 November, the Government announced emergency funding from Ireland of €1 million towards the relief effort for typhoon Haiyan. One week later, as the magnitude of the disaster became apparent, this sum was increased to €2.25 million. A separate dispatch of over 100 tonnes of essential shelter items for distribution to families worst affected by the disaster, to the value of €510,000, was also authorised. Ireland’s airlift of these relief items was among the first delivered to the Philippines, arriving in Cebu on Wednesday, 13 November.
Irish Aid is preparing for a further airlift of essential shelter and water and sanitation items in the coming days. My officials are also in daily contact with UNOCHA, UNICEF and the WFP on requirements for deployment of technical experts from the Irish Rapid Response Corps. An Irish captain and engineer in the Defence Forces was deployed on 17 November to support the WFP’s operations in the Philippines and an information management specialist was deployed on the same day to support UNICEF’s operations. We expect further deployments in the coming days. In addition, we have authorised the release of €425,000 in funding which had been pre-positioned with trusted NGO partners for sudden onset emergencies such as this. That brings the total sum of Ireland’s contributions to date to over €3 million.