Typhoon Rai: Hundreds of thousands brace for the new year cramped in evacuation centers, some confined in rooms taking up to four families at a time

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Following Typhoon Rai, hundreds of thousands of families are spending the new year in cramped evacuation centers, some being confined in rooms hosting four families at a time, according to Oxfam.

“Typhoon survivors already spent Christmas in evacuation centers; let’s not keep them there for New Year’s Day too as we are still battling the COVID-19 pandemic”, said Oxfam Pilipinas Country Director Lot Felizco.

“Congested conditions raise major health risks as it is impossible for them to observe physical distancing. The lack of water and sanitation facilities also make frequent hand washing and proper hygiene habits more challenging for typhoon survivors,” added Felizco.

The government reported that over 370 people have died and 4.5 million Filipinos across 10 regions have been affected and displaced by Typhoon Odette (international name: Rai). Initial monitoring showed that at least 400,000 houses were damaged — 127,000 of which were completely destroyed.

In some areas affected by Typhoon Odette, residents are already staying in makeshift houses built from salvaged materials. “These are not sturdy or safe enough as rainfall continues in many parts of the country,” Felizco said.

Women and children’s safety are particularly at risk as there are no room partitions between families. In some evacuation centers, people are also forced to bathe in open areas due to the continuous low water supply.

Oxfam Pilipinas calls on donors and the international community to prioritize funding for shelter repair materials on top of food and water for typhoon-hit communities. Providing construction materials to the community will allow typhoon survivors to repair and rebuild their homes, and help, in turn, decongest evacuation centers.

In Siargao, Oxfam and partner United Youth of the Philippines-Women (UnYPhil-Women) have already distributed 200 hygiene kits, 200 sleeping kits, and 200 water kits for the island barangay in San Fernando, Del Carmen town.

Oxfam and partner “Community Organizers Multiversity” are also currently transporting 500 food packs, 500 hygiene kits, 150 sleeping kits, 300 water containers, 90 boxes of aqua tabs, and 50 shelter kits to island barangays of Caub in Del Carmen; Mabini and Dayahoay in Pilar town.

Moreover, Oxfam Pilipinas has deployed solar packs to support SIKAT and the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Offices of Padre Burgos and Macrohon in Southern Leyte.

Oxfam is an international confederation of organizations seeking to build a future free from the injustice of poverty. Oxfam Pilipinas is a humanitarian and development organization that has been addressing the root causes of poverty and inequality in the Philippines in the last 30 years.

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