06/24/2015, 00.00
PHILIPPINES
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For Filipino bishop, natural disasters are dealt with through mutual aid and solidarity

Mgr Varquez, bishop of Borongan, calls for cooperation to restore a lifestyle worthy of human beings. The prelate led a turnover celebration for 6,875 homes to Yolanda survivors. Thanks to Pope Francis, awareness of climate change causing natural disasters is growing.

Manila (AsiaNews/CBCP) – Against a backdrop of large-scale natural disasters, “We ought to help one another recover, for everyone to be dignified human beings,” said Borongan Bishop Crispin Varquez in his homily during the blessing and turnover of 6,875 homes to Yolanda survivors

Almost 20 months since the typhoon hit, the bishop spoke to the faithful during the celebration held on Monday, telling them to help each other during reconstruction, to which the Church has contributed.

“We should be concerned how we can boost others to do better, a Christian way of dealing with one another,” Bishop Varquez said, as he called on those present to use God-given resources to lift people out of poverty.

The prelate said the beneficiaries of the new housing, funded by the Catholic Relief Services (CRS), have much to be thankful for.

The kind of help they received since super typhoon Yolanda’s devastation was beyond everyone’s expectations.

He also called on the new homeowners to show concern for those who have yet to recover from the onslaught of Yolanda.

Mgr Varquez said that with all the God-given resources available, “within a year and seven months, we now see people slowly rising.” For him, “God truly works in mysterious ways.”

CRS Philippines representative Joseph Curry mentioned Pope Francis’s Laudato Si’ encyclical on climate change, which was made public last week.

"While we celebrate the recovery,” the activist said, “we have to look forward to stronger typhoons caused by climate change." For this reason, it is essential to prepare communities for the risk of natural disasters.

Overall, the Filipino Church has already committed about US$ 11 million in rehabilitation and assistance projects in favour of the more than two million people affected by the typhoon.

Yolanda (aka Haiyan) hit the Visayas Islands on 8 November 2013. About 11 million people were affected in 574 towns and cities. The price tag for getting back to normal was estimated to be around US$ 8 billion.

The final death toll was estimated at more than 5,000 with at least 1,700 people still missing.

Initial figures had put the number of the dead at above 10,000; however, Filipino President Aquino tried to downplay that figure by saying that it was the result of an emotional reaction. In his view, the death toll was no higher than 2,500.

The country's size, its fragmentation and the difficulty of reaching some areas have seriously hampered operations. Nevertheless, after the tragedy, the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) raised fund to help survivors.

During his visit to the country, Pope Francis visited typhoon Yolanda survivors on 17 January.

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