United Nations agencies are working closely with the Government of the Philippines to reach those affected by the super typhoon Haiyan, as the number of reported casualties continues to rise and access remains a challenge in many areas. The typhoon has reportedly caused some 10,000 casualties, displaced more than 650,000 people and affected 9.5 million people.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted that the UN and its humanitarian partners, in close coordination with local and national authorities, have quickly ramped up critical relief operations to help some 13,000 families in desperate need.
"While many communities are very difficult to reach, with roads, airports and bridges destroyed or blocked with debris, agencies have begun airlifting food, health, shelter, medical and other life-saving supplies and have deployed specialist teams and vital logistics support," Mr Ban said in his statement.
UN emergency response teams arrived in Tacloban city within 12 hours of the disaster.
Relief efforts involve creating a pipeline of aid and goods distribution with deployment of relief specialists and logistic support, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.
However, unknown numbers of survivors do not have basic necessities such as food, water and medicines and remain inaccessible for relief operations. "It is vital that we reach those who are stranded in isolated areas as they are at risk of further threats such as malnutrition, exposure to bad weather and unsafe drinking water," said Luiza Carvalho, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the Philippines.
According to World Food Programme Representative Praveen Agrawal, WFP has taken on the logistical challenge and is working with the Government to set up operational hubs and organize airlifts of essential supplies.
Meanwhile, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has indicated that up to 4 million children could be affected – up from the 1.9 million estimated yesterday.
"We are rushing to get critical supplies to children who are bearing the brunt of this crisis," said UNICEF Philippines Representative Tomoo Hozumi. "Reaching the worst affected areas is very difficult, with limited access due to the damage caused by the typhoon to infrastructure and communications. But we are working around the clock to find ways to get these supplies to children as quickly as conditions allow."
UNICEF's warehouse in Copenhagen is airlifting $1.3 million worth of additional supplies for another 10,000 families, including those affected by the recent earthquake in Bohol. The shipments contain water purification tablets, soap, medical kits, tarpaulins, and micronutrient supplements.
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