by Staff Writers
Manila (AFP) Nov 29, 2013
The United Nations is to seek more international aid to shelter and give temporary jobs to millions displaced by the Philippines' deadliest typhoon in history, officials said Friday.
"Providing shelter and rebuilding lives is an urgent priority," said UN resident and humanitarian coordinator Luiza Carvalho, laying out the state of dozens of towns and cities three weeks after they were ravaged by Super Typhoon Haiyan.
"There are many needs in the aftermath of the typhoon and we require support to be able to put people back on their feet. Families require safety, shelter and work to sustain a decent life," she added.
The spokeswoman for the local UN office, Orla Fagan, told a news conference donors had forked out $164 million, or just under half of the initial UN humanitarian appeal for $301 million.
The earlier appeal was launched on November 12, four days after Haiyan unleashed powerful 315 kilometre an hour (195 mph) winds and giant storm surges in the central Philippines.
At least 5,598 were killed and 1,759 others are missing, mainly in the predominantly poor islands of Samar and Leyte, according to a government tally.
Haiyan disrupted the lives of 14 million people in an area about the size of Portugal and wrecked 1.1 million houses, so "$10 a head" in aid would not be enough, Fagan said.
UN relief agencies are to draw up specific aid requirements in mid-December when they come up with a "strategic action plan" for the next 12 months that would be implemented side by side with the government's own efforts, Fagan said.
Simon Hills, country disaster response officer for the International Labour Organization, said 5.6 million people had lost their means of livelihood, some of them permanently.
While many were fishermen and farmers, more than a million were drivers, maids, and security guards, he said.
Hills said the ILO and the Philippine labour ministry had found temporary work for 17,000 people clearing typhoon debris, building temporary homes for the displaced, and levees to prevent future flooding.
Farmers need urgent help in procuring seeds, fertiliser and tools, otherwise they will not be able to plant rice and could go hungry next year, the UN statement said.
Fagan said temporary building materials such as tarpaulin sheets were being given to families to relieve pressure on evacuation centres, which now shelter 219,000 people according to the government.
Philippine typhoon survivors flee false tsunami alert
Officials in the province of Antique were visiting upland villages where people had fled overnight to convince them there was no danger and it was safe to return to their coastal homes, said Broderick Train, the civil defence chief for the province.
"These are people who have been traumatised by their experience with Typhoon (Haiyan). When the false information began spreading yesterday they immediately fled," he told AFP in a telephone interview.
He said the provincial government was trying to convince them to return home as there had been no earthquake to trigger a tsunami.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said it had not recorded any big earthquakes over the weekend and had not issued any tsunami alert.
Train said officials had yet to find out who spread the false alert that triggered evacuations in the small coastal towns of Laua-an, Culasi, Sebaste, Barbaza, Tibiao and Pandan.
"I would say there are about a thousand people who fled their homes overnight," Train said.
Leck Benitez, spokesman for Antique's Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, told AFP it was likely criminals had spread the rumours by mobile telephone text messages.
"When people leave their homes they become targets for break-ins," Benitez added.
Benitez said the towns where evacuations were reported had been hard-hit by Haiyan, which struck the central Philippines on November 8 with winds of up to 315 kilometres (195 miles) an hour.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said the typhoon, along with tsunami-like storm surges that struck the central islands of Samar and Leyte, killed at least 5,632 people, with 1,759 others still missing.
This made Haiyan the deadliest typhoon in Philippine history, and one of the worst natural disasters on record.
Antique province accounted for 13 of those deaths, the council said in its latest tally.
The typhoon and the storm surges wrecked more than 1.1 million homes, and left more than four million people needing emergency assistance.
The Philippine government said Saturday rebuilding areas devastated by Haiyan would take up to five years and cost more than $2 billion.
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