The Philippines is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world. The country has well-developed crisis management capacities but with the incessant occurrence of strong cyclones and storms, often back-to-back, the European Commission has recurrently stepped in to deliver urgently needed humanitarian assistance. Around 20 typhoons hit the country every year, many of them destructive. The deadliest one so far has been Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as ‘Yolanda’), which crossed the archipelago in early November 2013 causing massive devastation. Most recently in mid-December 2015, Typhoon Melor (locally called ‘Nona’) swept across central parts of the country, resulting in widespread devastation.
Floods, landslides and the destruction of homes and livelihoods caused by frequent storms often leave people in need of temporary shelter, food and non-food items, clean water and sanitation facilities and primary health care, among others. Likewise, displacements because of socio-political turmoil in different zones trigger similar humanitarian needs among vulnerable populations.
Despite on-going efforts to bring an end to decades of conflict in Mindanao, sporadic outbursts of violence also cause short-term displacements of communities in the Southern part of the archipelago. The conflict has thus far displaced more than 495 000 people since 2012 and disrupted access to education for children.
EU humanitarian response
Since 1997, the EU has released €74.7 million for emergency relief interventions following natural disasters, and €24.7 million to help victims of armed conflicts. An additional €8.8 million was allocated between 1998 and 2016 in the framework of the disaster risk reduction programme (DIPECHO) for communities to better withstand disasters.
In early 2016, the European Commission allocated €1.5 million for humanitarian assistance to the victims of Typhoon Melor, which affected some 3.7 million people across central Philippines. The funds will be used to support the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable communities in the storm-stricken areas. To assist families affected by the devastating Typhoon Haiyan in late 2013, the EU released a total of €30 million to enable its partners to deliver humanitarian aid, early recovery and rehabilitation whilst an additional €10 million provided with development funds were also allocated for infrastructure reconstruction.
In response to the decades-long conflict in the southernmost island of Mindanao, the Commission has provided €1 million in 2016 to ensure access to quality education for children in the affected communities. Last year, the Commission made available a total of €2.1 million for this crisis. The funds supported the provision of relief items to the most vulnerable individuals, as well as the management and arrangement of services at evacuation and displacement sites. In addition, close to €850 000 worth of humanitarian assistance were channelled to families (almost 30 000 people) displaced in the nearby region of Zamboanga over the last two years.