Philippines needs P2.05-B more for typhoon victims

Posted at 06/20/2013 6:34 PM

MANILA - The Philippines needs an extra $47 million, or roughly P2.05 billion, to help more than half a million displaced people recover from a killer typhoon last year and ongoing guerrilla activity, the UN and other aid donors said Thursday.

About 530,000 people urgently need permanent shelters and emergency jobs, while debris from last December's Typhoon Bopha (typhoon Pablo) still has to be cleared, said David Carden of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

"Obviously we would need to receive (more aid) as soon as possible. There are still needs both in typhoon-affected areas and in other parts of Mindanao. I really hope these areas are not hit again," he told reporters.

A joint mission of UN OCHA and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation visited the southern region of Mindanao this week, seven months after Bopha killed more than 1,000 people and left hundreds more missing.

Other parts of Mindanao are saddled with decades-old Muslim armed rebellions which have claimed tens of thousands of lives since the 1970s.

The UN-OIC mission found the region needed $91 million to fund recovery projects, more than double the $44 million that the UN and other donors were able to raise for relief under the updated aid plan, said Assistant Foreign Secretary Jesus Domingo.

Carden said the aid must reach these areas immediately as the Philippines' rainy season had begun and these areas were still vulnerable to another typhoon.

While the government has signed a ceasefire with the main Muslim rebel groups, violence between armed factions often breaks out, prompting thousands to flee their homes.

The government is now in talks with the region's main Muslim guerrilla force in a bid to seal a final peace pact before the end of President Benigno Aquino's term in 2016.

Rashid Khalikov, a director for the UN OCHA, said the displaced population in the areas of Muslim rebellion were "more focused on immediate needs for the day: shelter, food, education for their children."

Domingo also said he was concerned that those affected might be easy prey to human traffickers who lure them away by promising better-paying jobs.