Typhoon Ketsana: Commission aids the Philippines; ready to help Vietnam and Laos

The European Commission is providing €2 million in emergency humanitarian aid to the vulnerable Filipinos most affected by tropical storm Ketsana. A rapid response coordinator from the Commission’s Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) is on the ground in Manila. According to the Philippine National Disaster Coordinating Council, nearly two million people have been affected by Ketsana with more than 600,000 displaced in evacuation centres and makeshift shelters. Since hitting the Philippines, Ketsana has intensified in strength and has now slammed into the coast of central Vietnam as a full-blown typhoon. More than 167,000 people have been evacuated from areas at risk in Vietnam. ECHO teams in the region are on standby to ensure a rapid response, including for Laos as the typhoon is moving west towards this country.

Expressing his sympathy with the victims of Ketsana, Karel De Gucht, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, said: “This is a major tragedy. More than 240 people have died, more than 600,000 are displaced and two million people are affected in the Philippines alone. The fast-track funding that we are deploying will focus on meeting the most urgent humanitarian needs in the stricken areas. The European Commission also stands ready to provide emergency assistance to Vietnam and Laos if necessary. In recent years, we have also been helping disaster-prone communities to be better prepared through the Commission’s natural disaster-preparedness programme. This programme is essential to saving lives”.

ECHO is coordinating its assistance with the Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC) in the civil protection unit of the Commission’s Directorate-General for the Environment.

Immediate humanitarian needs covered by the Commission’s assistance include food, safe drinking water, health, sanitation, temporary shelters, basic household items (including blankets, jerry cans, clothes and kitchen sets) plus telecommunications.

The European Commission regularly provides emergency support to victims of weather-related disasters in the region. It is also funding a €10 million natural disaster-preparedness programme in South East Asia, including the Philippines, Vietnam and Laos. Vietnam was well-prepared for the typhoon and the authorities promptly held preparatory meetings with relief organisations when the path of Ketsana became evident.

Background

In line with its commitment to support disaster risk reduction, the Commission has allocated more than €152M from the humanitarian aid budget since 1996, when the disaster preparedness programme was launched. The aim of this programme is to improve the capacities of communities at risk around the world – from South East Asia to South and Central Asia, South-East Africa and the South-West Indian Ocean, South and Central America and the Caribbean (see IP/09/924).

All funds are channelled through the Commission’s Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO), under the responsibility of Commissioner Karel De Gucht. The Commission-funded projects are implemented by non-governmental relief organisations, specialised UN agencies and the Red Cross/Red Crescent movement.

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