Oxfam assesses immediate needs of Hagupit evacuees in Samar

Emergencies, Media Releases, News article written on the 09 Dec 2014

Oxfam rapid assessment teams have been deployed to survey the immediate needs of evacuees forced to flee tropical storm Hagupit, to ensure those who have lost their homes don’t lose their health as well.

Teams have been assessing the damage in Eastern Samar and found many houses damaged and people vulnerable to further risks.

Working with the International Organization for Migration in coordination with local government units, Oxfam has begun visits to 20 of the 56 evacuations centres in the city of Tacloban, focusing on the need for clean water and sanitation.

Country Director of Oxfam in the Philippines Justin Morgan said while many people had been able to return to undamaged homes, those not so fortunate remained vulnerable to further risks.

“For those families not able to immediately return back home, they must be able to remain with dignity within evacuation centres, with the provision of food, water and sanitation facilities as well as privacy,” Mr Morgan said.

“The situation of women and girls, including the specific situation and needs of pregnant and breastfeeding women and young babies, must be urgently addressed, ensuring they have access to adequate nutrition, safe drinking water and sufficient health care.

“We are finding evacuation centres that have no bathrooms for women and girls, so there is limited privacy and there are also issues around hygiene.”

Mr Morgan said Oxfam had visited areas where the agency worked in Barangay 88, 89 and 90 in Tacloban and found many houses had suffered damage.

“There’s a need to replace shelter materials so the population can make rapid repairs,” he said.

Oxfam has teams with expertise in water, health and sanitation, gender, protection and livelihoods on standby for further deployments.  State weather agency PAGASA downgraded Hagupit’s classification from typhoon to tropical storm as it weakened on its course to Luzonand the risk of flooding remains.

“Oxfam is ready and willing to work with government and other humanitarian partners in ensuring the safety and dignity of any communities affected by Hagupit,” Mr Morgan said.

Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Helen Szoke said based on previous disasters in The Philippines and around the world, women and girls were particularly vulnerable to the impacts of disaster.

“This vulnerability includes increased risks of gender-based violence, compromised health, particularly for pregnant and breastfeeding women, and increased burdens of unpaid care work,” Dr Szoke said.

For interviews, please contact Gus Hohenboken in Manila on +63 927 601 4036 or angush@oxfam.org.au or Laurelle Keough on +61 425 701 801 or laurellek@oxfam.org.au