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28 SEPTEMBER 2009
UN ASSURES MANILA OF ASSISTANCE AFTER ROMULO CONVEYS PGMA APPEAL
NEW YORK—Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto G. Romulo met with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and other officials of the United Nations on Monday (Tuesday morning in Manila) to convey President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s appeal for international humanitarian assistance in the wake of the massive devastation wreaked by tropical storm Ondoy over the weekend.
The Philippine Mission to the United Nations said Secretary Romulo met with Secretary General Ban and Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes at the UN Headquarters shortly after the President issued her appeal for international assistance, through Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, Jr., chair of the National Disaster Coordinating Council.
“We are heartened by the assurances given by the Secretary General and the Undersecretary General that the United Nations will take positive action on our request for assistance,” said Secretary Romulo who was accompanied in the meeting by Ambassador Hilario G. Davide Jr., Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Rafael Seguis and Ambassador Libran Cabactulan.
Secretary Romulo said the Secretary General expressed his sympathy and condolences to the Philippine Government and to the families of the more than 140 people who perished in the floods that also displaced more than 500,000 people in Metro Manila and 25 other provinces.
In responding to Manila’s request for assistance, the Secretary General said the United Nations is preparing the issuance of a flash appeal for emergency assistance from both member states and non-government organizations.
In an earlier meeting with Secretary Romulo, Undersecretary General Holmes, who also heads the Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA), said his agency is ready to coordinate international humanitarian assistance and is looking into the possibility of utilizing the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF)—a humanitarian fund established by the UN in 2005 to enable more timely and reliable humanitarian assistance to those affected by natural disasters and armed conflicts.
Undersecretary General Holmes told Secretary Romulo that OCHA personnel are assisting in relief operations in Manila and that additional personnel based in Bangkok are on their way to the Philippines to assess the situation and give recommendations on the kind of assistance that is required. He also expressed concern over a weather disturbance approaching the country.
On the instructions of President Arroyo, Secretary Teodoro made initial coordination with the UN Resident Coordinator in Manila for assistance not only for the victims of Ondoy but also in anticipation of the possible severe effects of another weather disturbance that is approaching the country. He said the Philippines is in need of emergency supplies, generators, food and drinking water.
It could be recalled that the last time the United Nations coordinated international assistance for the Philippines was when typhoons Milenyo, Reming and Senyang devastated the Bicol Region in 2007. ###
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