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Humanitarian Community in the Philippines scales up support to the Government in Abra response

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MANILA, 2 August 2022 – The United Nations (UN) in the Philippines has arranged a satellite image assessment on the impact of the recent 7.0-magnitud earthquake to support the work of the Philippines Office of Civil Defense (OCD). “ The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is presently working with the UN Satellite Centre (UNOSAT) in the production of satellite images to help humanitarian responders in prioritizing areas severely affected by the shock,” said UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in the Philippines, Gustavo González.

Mr. González expressed sympathy and solidarity with the families affected by the earthquake and commended “the Government of the Philippines for their prompt reaction and the stewardship of responding to the needs of its constituents .”

In less than a week since the initial tremor and despite over 2,000 aftershocks to date, the regional and local government units (LGUs) continue to lead the response and provide the affected population with immediate relief assistance. The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) released a total of 41,000 family food packs to field offices in the Cordillera and Ilocos Regions, with 25,000 more to be delivered to augment local response efforts. The DSWD also activated the Gender-Based Violence sub-cluster to ensure the protection of internally displaced persons (IDPs), especially women and children.

The Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD), with support from IOM and the USAID Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance, distributed 2,000 tarpaulins in Abra and 1,000 tarpaulins in Ilocos Sur. An additional 600 tarpaulins were also distributed by the Office of Civil Defense (OCD).

The Department of Health (DoH) provided hospital tents, beds, hygiene kits, and various medicines to the provincial hospital in Abra. Members of the government Health Cluster are providing medical services; distributing water purification tablets while monitoring and testing of water quality; and rationing water. The Government Search, Rescue and Retrieval Cluster led by the military deployed 55 Urban Search and Rescue teams from the uniformed services to support in rescue and clearing operations. Military air assets were also used to transport relief items to mountainous areas that have been cut off.

“During this difficult time, the Government serves as a beacon of hope to alleviate human suffering and save lives. The Humanitarian Country Team and United Nations system in the Philippines stand ready to support the Government and remains a reliable partner in this stride,” Gonzalez added.

According to the DSWD and government assessment reports, of the total number of IDPs, 44,889 are camping out in open spaces or are hosted by relatives or friends, while 3,588 are in 38 evacuation centers. The province of Abra accounts for the most number of IDPs with over 98 per cent of the total figure. The government also confirmed the deaths of 10 individuals along with 375 injuries.

Humanitarian agencies are bilaterally supporting their government counterparts: the World Food Programme is providing 15 trucks to OCD and DSWD to deliver various relief items to Abra. Members of the Shelter Cluster are deploying structural engineers to conduct a post-earthquake inspection of critical buildings and residential structures.

A 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck the mountainous province of Abra on 27 July, triggering landslides and the collapse of structures. The tectonic earthquake’s epicenter was located in the town of Tayum, Abra (17.64°N, 120.63°E – 003 km N 45° W) at a depth of 17 kilometers, with the tremor being felt with varying intensities across Northern Luzon, including the capital Metro Manila. The roads in the provinces of Abra, Ilocos Sur and Benguet sustained structural damage as a result of the earthquake.

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