The United Nations is ramping up its relief operations in flood-stricken South-East Asia, appealing for donor support and rushing food to southern Laos where some 250,000 people have been hit by typhoon-spawned rain that have already affected an estimated 3 million in the Philippines.
The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is sending rice and canned fish to the hardest-hit communities in the southern Lao provinces of Sekong and Attapeu, where more than 90 per cent of land has been flooded, crops destroyed, vital food stocks depleted, and hundreds of houses submerged.
We are extremely concerned about people getting back on their feet following such devastating destruction, " WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran said from Washington. In some places, there is water as far as the eye can see, and people are literally swimming to safety. "
WFP is working closely with both the Philippine and Lao Governments to ensure that food and other supplies reach those in need as swiftly as possible. The region is overwhelmed with water. We hope donors step in to assist in these urgent relief efforts so that we can reach those affected as quickly as possible, " she added.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said today donors would meet in Geneva on Tuesday and a "flash appeal`, expected to total $60 million, for the Philippines would be issued by the end of next week.
Rains continue to pound the Philippines, and mass evacuations are taking place as the country braces for a powerful new typhoon that is expected to make landfall on Saturday morning, adding to the devastation caused by last weekend`s storm which drove more than a million people from their homes.
Voicing extreme concern over the impending arrival of the new typhoon, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes noted yesterday that about 8.5 million people lie in its path, 1.8 million of them in areas where winds are projected to reach hurricane strength. Sustained aid will be needed, especially food as large tracts of agricultural land have been ruined, he told a news briefing in New York.
WFP is currently aiming to provide food to 1 million people in October as part of its three-month emergency response.