Oxfam aid workers in the Philippines on high alert, ready to respond to typhoon Hagupit

Emergencies, General, Media Releases, News article written on the 06 Dec 2014

Despite the slight downgrading of Typhoon Hagupit Oxfam emergency responders remain on high alert, with the storm still recording windspeeds of up to 231km/m and posing a significant threat to millions of people in the Philippines.

The storm has been downgraded from a category 5 storm to category 4, meaning it is no longer a super typhoon, but gale force winds and heavy rainfall still pose a major risk to those recovering from the devastating impacts of Super Typhoon Haiyan last year.

Oxfam Philippines Country Director Justin Morgan said Oxfam was hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst, activating contingency plans and preparing stocks of emergency assistance.

“Rapid assessment teams throughout the country are currently on standby, and ready to go to affected areas to determine the scale of response needed,” Mr Morgan said.

“We are especially watchful on areas that are still recovering from last year’s Super Typhoon Haiyan. We are concerned that these households will be less able to cope with potential impacts of Typhoon Hagupit on their homes and on their livelihoods.”

Oxfam is preparing household water kits, which enable families to make their drinking water safe, as well as hygiene kits, comprised of basic sanitation items like anti-bacterial soap. We also have stockpiles of sleeping mats and blankets, underwear, toothpaste and toothbrushes.

Oxfam Australia’s Chief Executive Dr Helen Szoke, who was in the Philippines in the immediate aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, said Oxfam workers would be particularly aware of the importance of ensuring the protection of women and girls, who are most vulnerable to the impacts of disasters.

“Based on previous disasters in the Philippines, women and girls are at increased risk of gender based violence and human trafficking, while pregnant and breast feeding mothers are more exposed to health risks,” Dr Szoke said.

“Oxfam is committed to working with government and other humanitarian partners to ensure the rights of women are upheld through any emergency response, and that their particular needs and capacities are taken into account.”

For interviews or more information, please contact Angus Hohenboken on +61 428 367 318 or angush@oxfam.org.au