Today, I witnessed the severe humanitarian impact of the storms and torrential rains that have devastated parts of this beautiful land, and which have left the people of the Philippines facing one of the greatest challenges in memory.
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, WFP’s National Ambassador Against Hunger KC Concepcion and I, toured some of the hardest hit communities and helped distribute vital WFP food rations. I travelled by boat in an area 65 kilometres north of Manila where I saw whole neighbourhoods literally inundated with waist-high stagnant water, and met people who have lost all of their belongings – furniture, clothes, food – and are now receiving vital help from the Philippines government and humanitarian agencies like WFP.
President Arroyo and her government have launched a massive relief operation to ensure that more than 8 million people affected by these terrible storms can get the basic necessities and then get back on their feet. The world, and the World Food Programme, are here to support their efforts.
As part of the UN family’s humanitarian response, WFP is providing food relief and logistics support under the WFP-led logistics cluster with helicopters, trucks, boats and telecommunications equipment to reach and connect to isolated areas. WFP is initially providing critical food to more than 1 million of the 8 million affected by the floods. We are distributing rice and oil, as well as high energy biscuits imported from Turkey and Ecuador, which provide vital micronutrients for vulnerable children and mothers.
WFP is partnering with the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the National Disaster Coordinating Council to ensure that the transition from emergency relief to recovery is seamless. With the support of the governments of Japan, Australia, Canada, Brazil, the U.S. and the European Commission, today’s distribution ensures that families here in Candaba and in provinces in typhoon-affected Luzon are supported with nutritious food to help them cope with the challenges that these typhoons have brought about.
Additional pledges are being received from nations including France, Luxembourg, Poland and Germany. We extend our profound thanks to all those who have responded quickly.
The floods have damaged, homes, businesses and crops, but they have not dampened the great spirit and resilience of the Filipino people. Today, WFP is here to support the government’s efforts to help the people of the Philippines overcome this calamity. I have no doubt that together, we can.
For more information please contact:
Michael Huggins, WFP/Bangkok, Tel. + 66 26554115, Mob. + 66 845 559 001
Barry Came, WFP/Manila, Mob. + 63 917 594 8627