Press statement on humanitarian response in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda)

By Mr Lawrence Jeff Johnson, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines, delivered by Ms Ruth Georget at the UN OCHA Press Conference on Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), ILO Auditorium-Makati City, Philippines, 22 November 2013.

Statement | Makati City Philippines | 22 November 2013
First, let me apologize for not joining you in today’s press conference. I am in Tacloban to see the situation on the ground and to coordinate the emergency employment programme with the Philippine government.

As of today, over 5.2 million workers were affected and have lost their livelihoods either temporarily or permanently. This is close to the population of the entire Bicol region in the Philippines or the entire population of Finland.

Almost half of these affected workers are in vulnerable employment at 2.3 million. Before the typhoon these workers in vulnerable employment are already living in poverty – accepting or creating whatever work is available in order to survive.

However, this is not just a matter of numbers. We talk about people living in uncertainty. Yesterday, I read a story on Tacloban coming to life, but a worker said, “It’s very hard. If we don't have money, that'll be the problem. Perhaps in a month, we won't have any money left, because we don't even have jobs now."

The ILO has deployed six teams to the most affected areas: Tacloban City (Leyte), Roxas City (Panay), Busuanga (Palawan /Coron), Northern Cebu, Negros Occidental and Bohol, which is just recovering from the earthquake.

Emergency employment must be at the forefront of disaster response. The reconstruction work that lies ahead is enormous. Here in Tacloban, I have seen that the Philippine government through DOLE and DSWD has started the emergency employment applying principles agreed upon for safe and decent working conditions. Workers wear safety and protective gears. They have benefits such as wages, social security, accident and health insurance.

The last thing we want is for these workers under the emergency employment are to fall victims again as they start to rebuild their communities. These people have been through pain of loss and trauma so we have to ensure that they are not left vulnerable and exploited.

The scope of the damage I am seeing now in Tacloban is massive and the government cannot do it alone. However, the real challenge we face within the livelihood cluster is the limited funding, which now stands at only 6 per cent. Livelihood and agriculture are among the least funded areas.

As co-Chair of the livelihood cluster, the ILO has mobilized its internal resources, but we are also reaching out to partners and donors to support reconstruction of affected communities and to help bring people back to decent and productive work as soon as possible.

For further information please contact:

Ms Minette Rimando
ILO Country Office for the Philippines
+63 2 580 9905 or 580 9900

Ms Laetitia Dard
ILO Department of Communication
+63 2 580 9905 or 580 9900