Typhoon Haiyan: Survivors leave home areas in search of family and aid

News Stories, 19 November 2013

© UNHCR/R.Rocamora
Typhoon survivors cross the parking apron at Tacloban Airport to catch a plane bound for Cebu City, where they hope to find help.

CEBU, Philippines, November 19 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency said on Tuesday that thousands of typhoon survivors in the Philippines are believed to have left their home areas in places like Tacloban in search of family and assistance in surrounding regions or as far away as Cebu and Manila.

Shortly after the typhoon hit on November 8, people started leaving by sea and air. Cargo flights delivering aid from Cebu to Tacloban, Guiuan and other places have been returning with plane loads of displaced people every day. The full number is still unclear. According to the Philippines government as many as 4 million people could now be internally displaced.

Starting on Wednesday, UNHCR and its partners will set up a designated area at the airport in Tacloban to collect information on these displaced people, their destinations and vulnerabilities, and to try and ensure assistance on arrival and to prevent trafficking incidents. This protection monitoring system is expected to expand to other areas that displaced people are leaving from.

On Monday, UNHCR field protection teams arrived in Ormoc in western Leyte and Guiuan in Eastern Samar, where Typhoon Haiyan first made landfall.

The teams are equipped with trucks and fuel supplies to support two newly-established humanitarian hubs. Their work will initially focus on establishing protection coordination mechanisms and assessing the needs in and around Ormoc and Guiuan. The aim is to facilitate the prompt delivery of aid, and to ensure that people with specific needs are receiving help, especially in remote locations.

In Ormoc, the local authorities told UNHCR staff that most of the 109 affected administrative areas, or barangays, have received some form of assistance. Food, medicines and shelter materials such as plastic rolls are still urgently needed. A few areas have yet to receive non-food supplies such as plastic sheets and blankets.

The UNHCR team in Ormoc was today visiting areas outside the city to assess the situation and needs in rural areas.

Communications with UNHCR staff in Guiuan remain difficult because of the damage to infrastructure. Survivors report that entire villages along the coast were wiped out by the typhoon and storm surge.

In Tacloban, UNHCR has been distributing plastic sheets and blankets in Barangay 88, one of the hardest-hit areas of the city. We have also sent family-sized tents to Tanauan, south of Tacloban, to help the authorities set up a temporary tented site for displaced people, where UNHCR relief supplies arrived last week. Some 15,000 people in both areas have been assisted so far.

UNHCR aid continues to arrive in the country through airlifts. Two further aid flights are expected today. In total, nine flights will bring 10,000 tents, 112,000 blankets, 66,000 plastic sheets, 9,000 solar-powered lanterns and other relief supplies for a total of more than 100,000 people. On arrival in Cebu, these items are quickly moved to the affected areas through a combination of air, sea and land transport.

At the request of UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos, UNHCR has increased its volume of aid and raised its appeal to US$15 million. In addition to providing relief items, UNHCR is also co-leading the inter-agency protection cluster with the government to ensure that protection concerns remain a key consideration in interventions by all other clusters, and that people with specific needs have access to assistance and services.

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Typhoon Haiyan Devastates the Philippines

An estimated 13 million people were affected when Typhoon Haiyan struck the central Philippines on November 8. Thousands were killed and about 3 million are believed to be displaced - some of them living in evacuation sites, others on the ruins of their former homes. Tacloban City in Leyte province was one of the hardest-hit areas. A week after the typhoon made landfall, large parts of its coast remain flattened and piles of debris still line the streets. Working with the Philippines government and UN and NGO partners, UNHCR is airlifting emergency supplies for thousands of survivors. The agency is delivering tents, plastic sheets, mosquito nets and other critical aid. It is also co-leading the protection cluster with the government, working to identify vulnerable people and ensuring that they have access to basic assistance and services. UNHCR has appealed for US$15 million to meet these critical needs. UNHCR is now present in Tacloban and Ormoc in Leyte province, as well as Guiuan in Eastern Samar province.

Typhoon Haiyan Devastates the Philippines

Typhoon Haiyan: On the Road to Recovery Six Months After the Storm

Six months after Typhoon Haiyan carved its deadly and destructive path through the central Philippines and forcibly displaced 4 million Filipinos, the area is like a big construction site as people get on with rebuilding their flattened homes as well as their lives. Many have moved into renovated homes while thousands of those who fled to cities like Cebu and Manila have returned home. But large numbers still live in tents or former evacuation centres; full recovery is still some way off and many people need help. UNHCR is working with the government and other partners to address the challenges and find solutions for the displaced. The refugee agency has provided assistance to more than 600,000 people, distributing shelter materials and household items, including solar-powered lanterns in areas where there is still no electricity. UNHCR is also supporting a government-led mobile civil registration project to give 100,000 people continued access to social welfare, education and employment. Photographer Jeoffrey Maitem marked the six-month milestone by visiting communities recovering from Typhoon Haiyan.

Typhoon Haiyan: On the Road to Recovery Six Months After the Storm

Philippines: A home for NowPlay video

Philippines: A home for Now

Losing your family and home is losing everything you are and have. Tyhone Haiyan tore many families apart and took almost every persons home in Tacloban City ... in one day. UNHCR has provided more than 1,500 family tents to families in this area in addition to solar lanterns, plastic sheets, blankets and other relief items to help the people of Tacloban City regain a sense of life.
Philippines: A home for NowPlay video

Philippines: A home for Now

Losing your family and home is losing everything you are and have. Tyhone Haiyan tore many families apart and took almost every persons home in Tacloban City ... in one day. UNHCR has provided more than 1,500 family tents to families in this area in addition to solar lanterns, plastic sheets, blankets and other relief items to help the people of Tacloban City regain a sense of life.
Philippines: Leaving the Darkness Play video

Philippines: Leaving the Darkness

When typhoon Haiyan swept Tacloban City, it took with it what people need the most to see their way through any hard time: light. UNHCR has provided people of the Philippines with relief items that are helping make a difference. Relief items such as solar lanterns, plastic sheets, blankets and more than 1,500 family tents to families in this area.