Storms wreak havoc in typhoon-hit Philippines

20th Jan 2014

Disaster on top of catastrophic disaster for millions displaced by Typhoon Haiyan, Oxfam warns.

Thousands of people have been evacuated from collapsed tents and fragile makeshift shelters or are living in flooded shelters in disaster hit areas of the Philippines after the six month rainy season turned into vicious storms this week. 

November's Typhoon Haiyan left more than 4 million people homeless and in need of shelter. Families have tried to repair their homes with scraps of destroyed buildings and emergency plastic sheets and now live in flimsy structures extremely vulnerable to flooding or landslides. 

In Guiuan, the first town in the path of the strongest typhoon to hit land since records began, many tents have collapsed under the weight of the rain and emergency plastic sheets have been torn from shelters, leaving people exposed to the elements.    

"People are struggling to find places that are warm and out of harm's way," said Oxfam's Country Director in the Philippines Justin Morgan. "More were made homeless in the Philippines by Typhoon Haiyan than by the 2004 Asian Tsunami and with only three out of 32 evacuation centres remaining in Guiuan following Typhoon Haiyan, this is a disaster on top of an already catastrophic disaster.

Millions are living in dire conditions due to the lack of adequate temporary shelter and are at risk of waterborne diseases and respiratory distress.  

Donors have generously committed $331 million to the response but the UN's shelter budget is severely under-funded at 24% of what is needed, meaning close to 400,000 people will not receive adequate temporary housing unless more money is delivered. 

The government is providing some interim accommodation for people affected but current plans do not come close to meeting the huge number needed. 

"Emergency shelters are struggling to withstand the extreme weather we're experiencing in the Philippines," said Morgan. "In one of the most disaster prone countries in the world, it's critical we quickly provide safe homes and build quality evacuation centres for those continuing to live in dangerous and difficult locations. 

"The government has committed to build better housing than the poor region had before the typhoon hit and these storms show just how crucial it is that they keep their promise.

Oxfam says there's a critical need for an injection of funds for construction materials such as tool kits, corrugated iron roofs and concrete foundation slabs. 

At the same time the government, the United Nations and humanitarian agencies must work with people affected to quickly find and clear safe land for temporary and permanent housing. 


Notes to editors

New photos available here: http://wordsandpictures.oxfam.org.uk/?c=15349&k=8c876a7441