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Martin Penner, a former journalist, has worked for WFP since 2008.
Over the coming month, WFP aims to provide food assistance to 1 million people affected by the severe flooding that Ketsana and other tropical storms have caused in Manila and neighbouring areas of the Philippines over the last week.
ROME – WFP is mounting a three-month emergency operation to bring food and other assistance to people affected by Ketsana, the devastating storm which hit the Philippines on September 26. Read news release
Ketsana dumped the heaviest rains in more than 40 years on Manila and neighbouring parts of Luzon island. The government says 3.9 million people have been affected, including about 900,000 who have been forced to flee their flooded homes and seek shelter at evacuation centres or with host families.
“This is a catastrophe for the people of the Philippines and our hearts go out to them. Thousands of homes have been flooded, and people have been trudging through filthy storm water in search of loved ones and belongings,” said WFP’s Executive Director, Josette Sheeran.
Click to see a detailed WFP map of the areas of the Philippines affected by flooding.
“We are supporting the Philippines government relief response to ensure that food and other vital supplies reach the growing numbers of people, many of whom have lost almost everything in this disaster.”
The Philippines government is organising a massive relief operation in the flood-affected areas, and has requested international assistance. For its part, WFP aims to reach a million people with food assistance in October -- the month when needs are expected to be at their peak.
WFP has already begun moving more than 740 metric tons of rice which will be distributed by the government in the worst-affected areas, including the capital city of Manila. The agency will shortly be deploying helicopters and boats - to allow other humanitarian agencies to access in hard-to-reach areas, and to deliver vital supplies as rapidly as possible.
Helicopters and boats
The helicopters will also allow for vulnerable populations in low-lying areas to be relocated and for comprehensive assessments of infrastructure and overall damage to take place. Additionally, WFP will provide an emergency telecommunications system to allow humanitarian workers to better coordinate relief efforts.
Sheeran said she hopes donors will step in with contributions to allow WFP and other humanitarian agencies to support the government relief effort at this time of critical need.
Meanwhile, the impact of another storm -- ' Typhoon Parma' -- is not yet clear but could add to the difficulties faced by relief operations in the northern Luzon island. The typhoon moved out to sea on Sunday after thrashing the remote northeastern Philippines and may remain there for days, bringing more rain and possible landslides.