EC mobilizes funds to help ‘Sendong’ victims

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MANILA, Philippines – The European Commission has announced last night the allocation of €3 million to support the emergency response and provide relief to tens of thousands of people affected in the aftermath of the tropical storm “Sendong (international codename: Washi), which struck the southern Philippines, causing widespread destruction and loss of life.

The funds will be used primarily for debris clean-up, food assistance, temporary shelters, medical assistance, water and sanitation and protection. Over 100,000 people in need of urgent assistance will benefit from funding, the EC said in a statement.

The Monitoring and Information Center (MIC) has activated the EU Civil Protection Mechanism in order to advise Member States on the precise needs and to coordinate their offers of civil protection assistance, it said.

“Throughout the year the Philippines have been lashed by successive tropical storms, typhoons and heavy rainfall,” said Kristalina Georgieva, the European Union Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response.

“While storms are a regular occurrence, the magnitude of Washi and the ferocity with which it hit this part of the country were exceptional. Because tropical storms are less frequent in the southern part of the country people were therefore less prepared and that has magnified the size of this tragedy.”

Experts from the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) have visited the affected areas to assess where the Commission’s funding can make the greatest difference.

“The funding will bolster the efforts of humanitarian organizations who are working hard to provide immediate assistance, ” Commissioner Georgieva added. “In order to ensure coordinated and effective EU action, we have also activated the Civil Protection Mechanism to advise Member States and participating countries on what is needed.”

More than 335,000 people are affected in the region while the death toll has climbed to 957. 42,733 people are living in 62 evacuation centers. Significant damage has been caused to infrastructure and agriculture.

Background

Sendong made landfall in the southern Philippines during the night of 17 December 2011, bringing heavy rainfalls and strong winds which resulted in massive flooding and landslides in the Northern Mindanao area. Washi moved out of Philippine territory on 19 December, leaving a trail of destruction behind it.

The Philippines has been badly affected by typhoons and floods this year and the European Commission has already been able to provide €4.6 million of humanitarian assistance, mainly after typhoons Nesat (local name: Pedring) and Nagae (Quiel). The Commission has also been supporting community-based disaster preparedness projects in the Philippines, allocating more than €5.6 million over the past 6 years.

The Commission is a long-term provider of humanitarian assistance in South- East Asia, where it brings relief to the victims of displacement, conflict and natural disasters and where it advocates for and supports measures for disaster preparedness and risk reduction. In 2010 and 2011, the Commission has provided humanitarian assistance worth more than €65 million in the region.

About the EU Civil Protection Mechanism

The European Civil Protection Mechanism facilitates cooperation in disaster response among 31 European states (EU-27 plus Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway). The participating countries pool their resources which can be made available to disaster-stricken countries all over the world. When activated, the Mechanism coordinates the provision of assistance inside and outside the European Union. The European Commission manages the Mechanism through the Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC).

Since its creation in 2001, the Mechanism has been activated for disasters in Member States (for instance forest fires in Portugal, floods in the Balkans and an explosion at a naval base in Cyprus and also elsewhere in the world, including the earthquakes in Haiti and Japan.

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