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Martin Penner, a former journalist, has worked for WFP since 2008.
WFP is supporting government relief efforts in the Philippines after a deadly tropical storm slammed into the country over the weekend, causing severe flooding in urban areas and leaving tens of thousands of families needing food assistance.
MANILA -- As an initial response, WFP will provide vital food rations to around 180,000 Filipinos who are struggling to cope with the impact of the storm, which left at least 200 people dead, flooded homes and destroyed assets.
“WFP is working with authorities and mobilising assistance to help thousands of Filipinos whose lives have been devastated after Saturday’s deadly tropical storm,” said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran.
With wind speeds of up 100 km per hour, the storm dumped heavy rains over large parts of the southern island of Luzon, including Metropolitan Manila, a mega-city of some 15 million inhabitants.
On Sunday, WFP participated in a government-organized helicopter fly-over of some of the most affected areas. A joint rapid needs assessment between the government and UN agencies is currently under way.
Some 80 percent of capital city Manila was submerged after the record rainfall. According to the government's latest estimate, some 1.8 million people have been affected. At least 600,000 people – many of whom found themselves neck deep in water on Saturday – have been forced to flee their homes and seek refuge in churches, schools or host communities.
The Government has declared a "state of calamity" in Manila and 25 provinces. The numbers of people in need of assistance could rise further. In line with the government’s request, WFP’s initial food distribution will give 30,000 families a 25 kg sack of rice to keep them going.
Swift, coordinated operation
“We are deeply saddened by the magnitude of the human suffering caused by this natural calamity and we assure the Philippines Government and its people of our support for a swift and coordinated recovery effort,” said Stephen Anderson, WFP’s Country Representative in the Philippines.
According to meteorologists, two new tropical storms are forming to the east of the Philippines and may strike within the week.
Since 2006, WFP has been supporting conflict-affected populations in the Southern Philippines (Mindanao), but also supports large-scale natural disaster response on a case-by-case basis.