UN Appeals for Typhoon Relief Contributions

Bloomberg
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November 12, 2013

shore are seen after super typhoon Haiyan hit Anibong town, Tacloban city, central Philippines November 11, 2013. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

Nov. 13 (Bloomberg) — The United Nations appealed for contributions to fund relief operations in the Philippines, where Super Typhoon Haiyan may have killed at least 2,500 people and rainfall was hampering relief efforts.

The UN is seeking $301 million from donors, David Carden, the agency’s humanitarian affairs representative in the Philippines, said yesterday in Manila. Priorities are food, sanitation, water, hygiene, medicine and communications, he said. About 6.9 million people have been affected by the storm across 41 provinces, with nearly 150,000 houses damaged, the government said.

“You can already smell the stench of death, and you know there are still people buried under debris, under the piles of rubble,” said Gregorio Larrazabal, a former board member of the national commission on elections, who on Nov. 10 and 11 was in one of the towns hardest hit by the typhoon.

The desperation among survivors in Tacloban city, the capital of Leyte province that bore the brunt of gale force winds and storm surges, led President Benigno Aquino to declare a state of calamity on Nov. 11 and plead with locals to be patient. While airports opened, food and other aid was held up by roads that were washed away or covered in debris, and as rain continued to fall in the area.

“The national government through the leadership of our president is doing its best to restore the delivery of basic services in affected areas as soon as possible,” Office of Civil Defense Administrator Eduardo del Rosario told reporters in Manila yesterday.

1,833 Confirmed Deaths

In Tacloban, television images showed bodies on the streets and floating in the sea, homes reduced to rubble, roads blocked by felled trees and crops flattened.

The number of fatalities may be closer to 2,500 than the 10,000 initially estimated, Aquino told CNN in an interview yesterday.

At least 1,833 people are confirmed dead, with 2,623 injured and 84 missing, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said in a 7 a.m. update on its website, making it one of the deadliest storms in the country’s history. In late 2012 Typhoon Bopha killed 1,067 while Thelma, the deadliest storm in Philippine history, killed 5,080 in late 1991.

The chaos on the ground shows “this government has not learned from previous experiences,” Benito Lim, a political science professor at the Ateneo de Manila University, said by phone. “The government should mobilize the police and military or train people to clear the roads so food and water can reach the victims,” Lim said.

Economic Impact

Losses will be $12 billion to $15 billion, or about 5 percent of economic output, according to an estimate by Charles Watson, director of research and development at Kinetic Analysis Corp., a disaster-modeling firm. “For the Philippine islands, it is catastrophic,” Watson said in an e-mail.

The government has 18.7 billion pesos ($429 million) to fund reconstruction, Aquino said Nov. 11. There is no plan to sell bonds to fund rebuilding, Treasurer Rosalia de Leon said in a mobile-phone message, and the Treasury has “enough liquidity” for rebuilding.

The peso yesterday weakened 0.44 percent to its lowest level against the U.S. dollar since the middle of September, and the benchmark equity index gained 0.9 percent by the close, after dropping 1.4 percent on Nov. 11.

Inflation

The Eastern Visayas, the region hit hardest by the storm, produces about 2 percent of the Philippines’ gross domestic product, compared with 35 percent for metro Manila, Trinh Nguyen, an economist at HSBC Holdings Plc said in an e-mailed note yesterday. “The impact on inflation is likely to be more drastic, with supply shocks pushing up headline inflation in the coming months” Nguyen wrote.

“It will be a long road to recovery,” Philippine Red Cross Chairman Richard Gordon said in a statement. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent launched an appeal for $95 million in aid.

Field hospitals with medical teams from Belgium, Japan, Israel and Norway were on the ground, the World Health Organization said in a statement, with teams from Australia and Germany expected today.

U.S. Carrier

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel ordered aircraft carrier USS George Washington and other Navy ships to the Philippines. The carrier, which carries 5,000 sailors and more than 80 aircraft, had been in Hong Kong for a port visit, with crew recalled from shore leave and the ship likely to be in the Philippines in a matter of days, the Pentagon said in a statement.

President Barack Obama spoke by phone yesterday with Aquino to express condolences over the loss of life from the storm and to offer continued U.S. assistance, according to a White House statement. The two leaders discussed “the need for a speedy assessment of what further American resources would be most helpful to assist in the Philippine recovery effort.”

Nearly 250 U.S. military personnel had delivered more than 107,000 pounds (48,500 kilograms) of relief supplies from the Philippine government and the U.S. Agency for International Development, using MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor and other aircraft, the U.S. Marine Corps said in a statement.

Airports Reopen

All airports affected by Haiyan are operational, with Tacloban airport open for relief efforts and some commercial operations, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said. Power outages are still being experienced in some areas.

More than half of the mobile cell sites of Globe Telecom Inc. and Smart Communications Inc. are operating, according to del Rosario from the OCD Administrator.
Gross domestic product in areas hit by the typhoon may decline as much as 10 percent next year, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima told Bloomberg Television yesterday. The regions affected account for 12.5 percent of national output, he said.

Still, the country has the fiscal ability to deal with the relief and rebuilding costs, he separately told an investment summit in Manila, given a lower-than-projected budget deficit that’s expected to be within 2 percent of GDP this year.

The Philippine Department of Tourism in a statement urged people to visit, saying the country is a “safe and fun” destination and many tourist areas in Visayas remain accessible.

Better Protect

The government must better protect communities at risk, Senator Loren Legarda, chairman of the upper house committee on climate change, said yesterday in a statement.

“We need to rebuild communities with the confidence that we are not rebuilding the risks again,” Legarda said.

The Philippines must deal with the “unfolding impact of climate change now,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said yesterday in a Manila speech.
“I am speaking to you during a most difficult time in my nation’s history,” he said. “From the devastation, it is clear that much more aid and assistance will be needed.”

Copyright 2013 Bloomberg

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