BANGKOK (AlertNet) – One month after a tropical storm devastated northern Mindanao in the Philippines, hundreds of thousands of people remain displaced and in urgent need of food aid, the United Nations said in its latest situation report.
Mid-December’s Typhoon Washi killed more than 1,200 people on the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines after it sent torrents of water, mud and logs through riverside and coastal villages. It destroyed more than 10,000 houses, displaced some 300,000 people and disrupted the lives of 1.1 million. Over 180 people remain missing.
Since then, more than 223,000 people remain displaced, with almost nine out of 10 staying with host families and in makeshift shelters. The rest are in 40 overcrowded evacuation centres in the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan.
More than 250,000 affected people need immediate food aid, the report said.
“Considering the extent of internal displacement and the fact the survivors have remained ‘homeless’ for a month now, provision of shelter, together with adequate water, sanitation and hygiene as well as women- and children-friendly facilities, has become top priority for the government and aid agencies,” said the report.
Aid agencies expect there are more affected people in remote areas, many of which remain inaccessible by road.
The exact numbers of people needing shelter or help in shelter-repair remain unconfirmed but there is urgent need for temporary and permanent shelters, the U.N. said.
The report said acquiring land for relocation sites “remains the key challenge, particularly (given) that the land secured needs to provide the displaced with livelihood opportunities.”
The government and aid agencies are preparing land big enough to hold 1,300 families for the short term, but they planned only 850 temporary shelters and so a shortfall of shelter is expected in the coming days, the report said.
Two sites identified for permanent relocation in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan will house 2,100 families, but in Cagayan de Oro alone there are almost 5,000 families needing to be relocated
Another concern is ensuring families living in informal settlements in hazardous areas, now designated as ‘no-build’ zones by the government, are relocated in a “coherent, safe and dignified manner,” the U.N. said.
(Editing by Rebekah Curtis)