Located along the typhoon belt and the Ring of Fire in the Pacific, the Philippines is highly exposed to various natural disasters. This is further compounded by armed conflict between the government and armed groups in the southernmost island of Mindanao. These events more often than not result in significant losses of lives and livelihoods whilst causing many people to lose their homes. The European Union provides assistance in the form of food, water and sanitation facilities, health services, and emergency livelihood support.
Although the Philippines has well-developed crisis management capacities, the incessant occurrence of strong cyclones and storms has often put a heavy strain on local resources. Around 20 typhoons hit the country every year. In late December 2018, tropical depression Usman triggered widespread flooding and landslides in central parts of the Philippines, killing more than 120 people and leaving nearly 700 000 people affected. Earlier in September, typhoon Mangkhut (locally known as Ompong) hit the northern part of Luzon, affecting almost 1.5 million people and causing widespread damage to the livelihood opportunities of affected population and to the infrastructure of the region. In early August, incessant monsoon rains triggered widespread flooding and landslides in 28 provinces across the archipelago nation. The events displaced close to 400 000 people whilst causing extensive damage to infrastructure, farmlands, and livestock. In December 2017, tropical storm Tembin struck the southern part of the country, leaving behind a trail of destruction in communities already displaced by the ongoing conflict in the region.
Sporadic outbursts of violence between armed groups and the Philippine government in Mindanao also regularly trigger displacements of communities in the southern part of the country. The ongoing Mindanao conflict, classified by the European Commission as a ‘forgotten crisis’, has caused the displacement of close to a million people since 2012. These large-scale forced displacements have inevitably increased humanitarian needs.
In 2018, the European Union provided a financial support of more than €4 million to the Philippines. Of this amount, more than €3 million provided humanitarian assistance to people affected by both the conflict in Mindanao and by the natural disasters. The remaining €1 million was assigned to disaster risk reduction projects. These funds support the provision of food, water supply and sanitation facilities, health services, emergency livelihood support, and protection to vulnerable individuals. As an immediate response to the recent monsoon floods triggered by tropical depression Usman, the European Union allocated €130 000 to deliver life-saving relief to the most affected families in some of the worst hit provinces of Albay and Camarines Sur in Bicol region.
Earlier, the EU mobilised an emergency aid package worth €2 million to bring support to the victims of typhoon Mangkhut to address the most urgent needs of the communities such as shelters equipment, water, sanitation and hygiene interventions and food assistance. Following August’s widespread flooding and landslides triggered by incessant monsoon rains in the archipelago nation, the European Union provided €150 000 to support the Philippine Red Cross in providing humanitarian assistance to impacted families. Furthermore, €570 000 was allocated to deliver emergency relief assistance when typhoon Tembin struck the southern Philippines.
In late 2016, when three successive typhoons struck the northern Philippines and affected more than 1.8 million people while damaging hundreds of homes, the Commission committed a total of €628 000 to provide food and other essential relief items to impacted families. In December 2015, €1.5 million was committed following typhoon Melor that enabled the provision of food, safe drinking water, and emergency shelter materials. It also helped the affected populations to create alternative sources of income by the introduction of several initiatives, including vegetable gardening and poultry farming.
In response to typhoon Haiyan, which struck the Philippines in November 2013 and considered the most destructive cyclone to hit the country, the Commission provided €30 million in humanitarian assistance, early recovery and rehabilitation for the survivors. The EU Civil Protection Mechanism was activated to coordinate European relief efforts, following a request from the Philippines authorities. All EU Member States extended their support, dispatching personnel or material assistance, such as water purification teams and medical supplies, and generous financial aid totalling more than €180 million.
For 2018-2019, the Commission is providing €1 million to enhance disaster resilience of local government and impoverished families living in high-risk urban areas in Metro Manila, through a series of activities such as local capacity building, early warning systems, education, public awareness campaigns and resilience livelihood planning.