“The devastation we saw in Tacloban today was shocking,” said WFP Representative and Country Director Praveen Agrawal, after a visit on Saturday to one of the most affected cities in the east of the country.
WFP officials joined a UN-Government assessment mission to survey damage in Leyte and Samar provinces, and further teams were due to be deployed on Sunday.
Hundreds of people are feared dead in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan swept through on Friday. Hundreds of thousands of people are reported displaced from their homes.
Among the worst hit areas were the eastern island of Leyte and the coastal city of Tacloban, which saw buildings flattened in a storm surge.
“People have lost their homes and livelihoods, and the damage to infrastructure is substantial,” said Agrawal, pictured to the left shortly before Saturday's assessment mission.
Preliminary images and reports of destruction indicate that there will be significant logistics challenges facing relief efforts.
WFP Deputy Country director Asaka Nyangara confirmed this in a recorded video appeal put on YouTube, noting that: “There are roads that are totally destroyed.”
“People [are] in need of assistance, food, water. We are appealing for your help to assist the millions of people affected by this typhoon,” he said.
WFP is ramping up its operation in the Philippines, deploying emergency assistance to support the Government-led relief efforts.
As a preliminary measure, 40 metric tons of fortified biscuits are due to be flown in from Dubai in the coming days. High Energy Biscuits are often provided in the early days of a crisis as they are light to transport and do not need cooking.
WFP is also working with the government to boost logistics and emergency telecommunications capacity as required.
“WFP is ready to assist in any way it can,” said Agrawal.
If you want to donate to WFP emergency operations in the Philippines, go to wfp.org/typhoon