UN, partners launch P6B COVID aid plan, biggest since `Yolanda’

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    THE United Nations (UN) and aid partners in the Philippines on Tuesday launched a P6-billion humanitarian response program, the largest international humanitarian response plan in the country since typhoon “Haiyan” (typhoon “Yolanda”) in 2013.

    The UN said the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) COVID-19 Response Plan is focused on providing critical health interventions and multi-sectoral humanitarian assistance to the 5.4 million poorest and most marginalized Filipinos living in “poor, densely populated urban settings.” It also prioritizes the safety and well-being of women and girls.

    “The pandemic is challenging the capacity of response of any single country in the world. Our role is to make best use of our global knowledge and resources to join government’s efforts to contribute to the safety and well-being of the Filipino people,” Gustavo Gonzalez, UN resident coordinator and humanitarian coordinator in the Philippines, said.

    The HCT response plan focuses on supporting the government in addressing the most immediate challenges relating to health, food security, water and sanitation, protection as well as risk communication, among others.

    Some 50 country-based UN and non-governmental partners are contributing to the response, bringing together national and international non-government organizations and their networks, faith-based organizations as well as the private sector.

    Twenty-three percent of the response plan has been mobilized so far, the UN said.

    The HCT response plan to COVID-19 will last until the end of the year but will be updated as needs from the pandemic change.

    “The evolving nature of this document reflects the manner in which the humanitarian community in the Philippines rapidly mobilized and came together in a coordinated and inclusive way to support the government-led efforts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as help address socioeconomic needs emerging from contraction of the economy and unprecedented levels of unemployment,” the UN said.

    The agency said that the plan is also a stepping stone to the mid and long-term support of the UN to the COVID-19 recovery, to be developed in the upcoming UN Socioeconomic and Peacebuilding Framework.

    “As we work together to support government efforts to contain the virus against the demand to restore the economy, the UN and humanitarian partners will continue to seize opportunities to build greater resiliency, equity and inclusivity, in short, to build back forward better,” Gonzalez said.

    The Philippines has also been included in the Global Humanitarian Response Plan, with a total of $10.3 billion, the largest in history, bringing together the response plans of 63 of the hardest hit and most vulnerable countries.