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5 M workers affected by Typhoon Yolanda ILO

from November 20, 2013 05:00 pm to November 20, 2013 05:00 pm

  (The Philippine Star) 

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/11/20/1258739/5-m-workers-affected-typhoon-yolanda-ilo

MANILA, Philippines - Typhoon Yolanda had displaced five million workers, a quarter of the country’s workforce, the International Labor Organization (ILO) said yesterday.

In a statement, Lawrence Jeff Johnson, ILO Philippine office director, said the number is equivalent to the population of Norway.

“But this is not just a matter of numbers: these are people whose livelihoods have been destroyed and who are now living in uncertainty,” he said.

Johnson said the ILO and other UN agencies are  working with the government, employers’ and workers’ organizations in helping out the displaced workers.

Almost half of the affected workers were in vulnerable employment, he said.

Johnson said emergency employment would be critical not only in clearing up roads and restoring community facilities, but also in providing livelihood.

“They worked in poor conditions, without any access to social protection and with little choice other than to accept or create whatever work they could find,” he said.

“Assisting these workers and their families should be our number one priority.”

Johnson said ILO has implemented emergency employment programs in the Philippines in the past for people that natural disasters had affected.

“These types of programs help survivors overcome the crisis by empowering them, but only as long as they include safe and decent working conditions, such as minimum wages, protective equipment, guidance on safety and health, social protection and health insurance,” he said.

The ILO has deployed six teams to areas that Yolanda had severely affected, Johnson said. 

Diane Respall, ILO-Manila program officer, said ILO has deployed rapid assessment teams in different Yolanda-devastated areas to assess the typhoon’s impact on livelihood, income and employment.

“Based on the result of our consolidated assessment, we would like to be able to provide timely response (to local governments),” she said.

In a statement, ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said the ILO is helping put in place emergency employment and cash-for-work programs as part of a $301-million relief appeal that the UN had launched.

“The loss of life and the scale of the destruction are heart-breaking, and there are millions of people in desperate conditions,” he said. –  With Danny Dangcalan, Ted Torres, Marvin Sy