Switzerland sends experts to the Philippine disaster area

Bern, Press release, 22.12.2011

During the night of 17 December a tropical storm devastated large parts of the south of the Philippines. Hundreds of thousands of people have been affected by this disaster and about 1000 people were killed. In response to the emergency, the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) has decided to send six experts from the Humanitarian Aid of the Swiss Confederation to the disaster area. They will make sure that access to drinking water is improved and that hygiene measures are stepped up.

The six experts from the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA) will travel to the disaster area Cagayan de Oro on the island of Mindanao from 21 December onwards. The emergency relief efforts will be actively supported by the Swiss Embassy in Manila. The team will consist of four water experts and two logistics experts. Their mission is to help to ensure access to clean drinking water and to prevent the outbreak of infectious diseases in the areas affected by the tropical storm.   

They will carry out water analyses and disinfect water, as well as raising the awareness of the population for hygiene measures and carrying out further measures in relation to drinking water. Water cleaning and water distribution devices will also be provided and will be operated by the local authorities or by the Philippine Red Cross.  

Tropical storm "Washi", which hit the Philippines in the night of 17 December, caused devastating floods and landslides in the south of the country. The extent of the disaster has now become clear and the death toll has now risen to almost 1000. Hundreds of people are still missing. According to the authorities, 350,000 people have been affected by the storms, particularly in the coastal towns of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro on the island of Mindanao. Many people were sleeping when the storm occurred. They were not familiar with natural disasters of this kind, as tropical storms usually affect only more northerly regions of the Philippines.  

In the past, the SDC has provided emergency aid and carried out rehabilitation measures on several occasions following natural disasters in the Philippines. About CHF 2 million has been spent on helping the victims of typhoons, floods and landslides in the past 10 years. 

Further information:

The SHA and its specialized groups

Address for enquiries:

Information FDFA
Bundeshaus West
CH-3003 Bern
Tel.: +41 58 462 31 53
Fax: +41 58 464 90 47
E-Mail: info@eda.admin.ch


Federal Department of Foreign Affairs