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Haiyan leaves Humanitarian crises: Coming back from the Philippines

January 30th, 2014 by Posted in Emergencies

Jannat Noor- Emergency Food Security and Vulnerable Livelihood Coordinator

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Humanitarian crisis has unfolded, when Typhhon Haiyan locally known as Yolanda, devastated the Philippines brutally, on November 8, 2013. One of the deadliest Tphoons in the history, Haiyan left 6000 people dead and 1600 missing. (Source: CNN). Its powerful winds and enormous storm surge smashed buildings and roads and destroyed livelihoods of million.

Oxfam is working on the islands of Cebu, Leyte and Samar and currently distributing hygiene kits, building toilets and other sanitation facilities, restoring water supplies and also giving livelihood support to some of the most vulnerable people in the recovery phase.

As being the Emergency Food Security and Vulnerable Livelihood Coordinator of Oxfam in Bangladesh, I was asked to be a part of the emergency response team in the Philippines.  I had to wait for my visa a bit long because of dilly-dallying over the process, which I think shouldn’t be the case for emergency.

However after traveling to Cebu, I was deployed in Haiyan affected areas from 19 November -6 January 2014, leading Emergency Food Security and Livelihood (EFSL) team in Bantayan Island where Oxfam initiated Cash for Work. We delivered cash to 18,000 affected families, with a target to reach 27,000 in 3 municipalities. Senior citizens, pregnant women and  people with disabilities, were the priority for us. Initially we delivered cash by hand and later through a local Remittance company. I was astounded when one witness said, “During that moment the whole island was almost dark and I saw one goat was flying away.”

I feel myself lucky to be a part of the team and stand beside the affected people in the Philippines. I found the people in the Philippines are mentally very strong and resilient to such a natural disaster. They are facing the challenges with smiles in their faces. I believe, my experiences will be more than useful for my own country.

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