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. Millions Of Victims, Little Aid For Philippines Disaster Victims

by Staff Writers
Manila (AFP) March 6, 2008
Natural and man-made disasters affect nearly one in 10 people in the Philippines every year but millions of victims are largely left to fend for themselves, the Asian Development Bank said Thursday.

"Disasters, both natural and man-made, have been a major source of poverty and vulnerability in the Philippines," the Manila-based lender said in a country report.

Situated in the "Ring of Fire" of volcanic islands around the rim of the Pacific Ocean and situated in the typhoon belt, the Philippines gets a hefty dose of typhoons, floods, devastating waves, landslides, quakes and volcanic eruptions.

These "adversely affected an annual average of about eight million people, mostly in rural areas," the bank said.

"Only about one-half of the affected people received assistance from the government and private relief institutions.

"Of those assisted, the value of assistance was a miniscule amount, not even representing one percent of the average income during 'normal' times of the poorest 30 percent of the population."

The bank said there was a lack of funds as well as "poor targetting" caused by poor governance, leading to "significant leakages and wastage of resources".

It said the scant aid reaching displaced populations was "a serious concern considering that disasters often inflict severe damage and loss to property and destroy the only means of livelihood for the poor.

"Failing to receive assistance, they risk falling to perpetual poverty traps."

The bank said the Philippines gets hit every year with 20 typhoons that come with strong winds, intense rainfall and flooding.

"In recent years hydrologic events have become more intense and more frequent, presumably due to global climate change."

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Brussels seeks European disaster response force
Brussels (AFP) March 5, 2008
The European Commission on Wednesday relaunched an initiative to create an EU civil protection force to intervene anywhere in the world in case of a natural or man-made disaster.

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