International humanitarian agency Oxfam has expressed concern for survivors of super typhoon “Odette” (international name: Rai) who are still in evacuation sites as COVID-19 cases in the country continue to rise.
“While many of the typhoon-hit families have been able to come home, there are still hundreds of thousands of typhoon survivors who are now without houses and are still staying in congested evacuation sites,” said Oxfam Pilipinas country director Lot Felizco.
As of January 17, there were still 228,529 displaced typhoon survivors staying in evacuation centers. Of those still displaced, 121,997 are from Region 7, 52,940 are in Region 8 and 51,354 are in CARAGA.
Government data also show that about 400,000 houses have been totally destroyed by the typhoon.
Although there are no specific reports yet about COVID-19 cases in evacuation areas, Eastern Visayas has already recorded its highest positivity rate since the start of the pandemic at 45 percent.
The rest of the country has recorded similar high percentages.
“With the Philippine government again limiting mobility and transit in the country due to the high number of COVID-19 cases, relief operations may again be jeopardized,” said Felizco.
“We hope more groups and the government can increase support for typhoon survivors,” she said, adding that the health and safety of typhoon survivors “should be our priority.”
“We hope the government can place them in homes as soon as possible,” said Felizco.
“It has been a month since typhoon Odette pummeled the Philippines and yet almost a quarter of a million Filipinos are still in evacuation centers,” said Felizco.
“The problem is that many of these facilities have no access to potable water, increasing the risk of the spread of illness,” she said.
Oxfam has previously called for provisions of shelter materials to help typhoon survivors rebuild and in turn decongest evacuation centers.