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One million storm survivors in Philippines need food aid - UN

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Fri, 4 Jan 2013 12:05 GMT
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BANGKOK (AlertNet) – A month after Typhoon Bopha hit the southern Philippines, up to 1 million people need food assistance and thousands of others could be displaced for a second time, the United Nations says.

The most intense storm to hit disaster-prone Philippines in 2012 struck Mindanao island in the early hours of Dec. 4, killing more than 1,000 people, flooding farming and mining towns and burying many people in mudslides. More than 800 people remain missing.

"Overall the need (for food assistance) is for about 800,000 to a million people across several regions," said Dipayan Bhattacharyya, head of food security with the World Food Programme (WFP) in the Philippines.

"For the international humanitarian community, we're primarily focusing on 481,000 people in 4 or 5 provinces which are the worst affected - such as Davao Oriental, Compostela Valley, Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur," he told AlertNet by phone from Mindanao.

WFP has been distributing food since the immediate aftermath of the storm and recently started food-for-work activities such as cleaning drainage and clearing debris.

"We're now trying to monitor the market situation and based on it, we would very soon launch cash-for-work activities so people can purchase food directly from the market," Bhattacharyya said.

"From January we will also start emergency feeding in schools, targeting about 80,000 school children in these four provinces," he added.

These programmes are expected to last around six months, he said.

Close to 1 million typhoon survivors remain outside evacuation centres. Of the 13,940 people in evacuation centres, 6,400 people – who currently sheltering in schools – face being forced to move again with classes due to resume on Jan. 14, according to a U.N. report released on Thursday.

The U.N. report said agencies are facing severe funding constraints and are unable to expand their programmes.

The United Nations launched an appeal for $65 million on Dec. 10 to respond to the disaster but so far it is only 21 percent funded. Of the $10 million needed for emergency shelter, only 16 percent of it is funded.

The survivors are also suffering from acute respiratory infections and health care workers are seeing increasing numbers of acute diarrhoea, the report said.

It said damaged health facilities and the fact that many health workers had been affected by the typhoon themselves meant delays in the provision of health services, especially for reproductive health.


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