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  • » 11/13/2013, 00.00


    Philippines, survivors battle for aid. Manila disputes the UN estimate of victims

    The situation of the people affected by Typhoon Haiyan is increasingly desperate: food, water and medicine are lacking. The army opens fire to disperse looters. The President lowers number of the dead, an “emotional” overestimate of immediate aftermath. The bishops call for "transparency" in the management of funds for aid.

    Manila (AsiaNews) - The struggle for survival is increasingly desperate in the central areas of the Philippines, devastated by the passage of super-typhoon Haiyan (renamed Yolanda in the country ) on 8 November last, sowing death and destruction. Aid distribution is slow with several municipalities still isolated five days on and the Civil Protection teams struggling to reach the most critical areas . Meanwhile, Philippine President Benigno Aquino has rejected the death toll of more than 10 thousand dead estimated by the United Nations. The head of state, already under criticism for emergency management in the wake of the typhoon, believes the toll is between 2 thousand and 2,500 deaths , while admitting that it "is likely to grow."

    Interviewed by CNN , President Aquino has defended the government's actions and said that the initial estimates circulated in recent days, which speak of more than 10 thousand victims , are "too high " given that the "most likely" figure is about 2,500 dead. The head of state believes the figure is disproportionate due to the " emotional trauma " suffered by police officers and local officials , on whose testimony the UN and the international media based their initial reports. But he admits that "29 municipalities are still isolated" and the Manila government is committed to gathering as much information as possible.

    The head of state's words have generated criticism and skepticism among those involved to bring relief to the civilian population. The defensive attitude of President Aquino is explained by his attempt to defuse the growing controversy over prevention policies and, more importantly , the aid operations after typhoon. Meanwhile, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council ( NDRRMC ) reports that the number of official victims (as of the 6pm November 13) is 1,833 dead, 2,623 injured and at least 84 missing.

    The testimonies pouring in from the most affected areas tell of scenes of desperation , of a tragedy within a tragedy that combines the devastation caused by Yolanda, inability to distribute aid and a lack of basic necessities . The need for food, clean water and medicines is of maximum urgency. The MP Martin Romualdez , from Leyte , says that "we urgently need to help the needy ," while the number of people affected , according to United Nations estimates , exceeds 11 million. At the moment the UN estimates 673 thousand displaced.

    The security situation also continues to worsen, with increasing episodes of looting and pillaging in shops or shopping centers that still have some kind goods available. Eight people were killed during the assault on a government center for the distribution of rice. A witness reports that "a wall collapsed and people were crushed beneath, dying instantly". Some TV pictures show government soldiers sent by President Aquino to Tacloban, one of the most affected areas, firing shots into the air to disperse groups of looters. The mayor Tecson John Lim says that 90% of the coastal city of 220 thousand people was destroyed, while " only 20% of the inhabitants " have received aid . " Looting is not a criminal act - says the director - it is the struggle for survival".

    Meanwhile, the Filipino bishops have launched an appeal for "transparency" in the management of funds for the emergency caused by Typhoon Haiyan , as similar cases in the past have often been incidents of corruption or malfeasance. The Auxiliary Bishop of Manila Broderick Pabillo , President of the Commission for Social Action of the Filipino bishops' conference , "calls on the government to be transparent and honest, to avoid all this money going to waste ." The reference is to the flood of aid which, in the aftermath of the tropical storm that swept the country in 2009, was taken from the emergency relief effort and directed to "ghost projects" undertaken by the executive at the time. " We encourage everyone - adds the prelate - to do the same". Finally, the Bishops' Commission for Youth Ministry is asking people to pray for the victims, in all parishes in the country Masses and prayer novenas are being held, to help people live and strengthen their faith in these tragic circumstances.


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    See also

    19/11/2013 PHILIPPINES
    Manila divides area affected by Typhoon Haiyan into blocks to coordinate operations
    The aim is to improve intervention, with foreign aid going to distinct blocks. So far, almost 4,000 people are known to have died but the final tally is not yet in. Catholics continue their work for typhoon victims. About 68,000 parcels with basic necessities have been distributed so far. About US$ 300,000 have been raised to fund relief operations.

    10/11/2014 PHILIPPINES
    Philippines, "still much to be done" one year after Yolanda
    Head of national Caritas speaks to AsiaNews. Catholic Relief Services will build 20 thousand housing units within the next three years. The Church, through #ReachPhilippines, has helped over 97 thousand families. On November 15th race of solidarity in Manila. The story of little Mary and her family, still together today thanks to the Catholic support programs.

    15/11/2013 PHILIPPINES
    Caritas Philippines: Typhoon Haiyan tragedy an opportunity to live "the spirit of the Gospel"
    The Emergency Unit Coordinator points to gestures of solidarity by population. People affected by the earthquake of October offer aid and support to populations hit by Yolanda . Pope Francis closeness to people "made us proud to be Catholic". The cardinal of Manila calls for a day of fasting and prayer on November 16 .

    11/11/2013 PHILIPPINES
    Philippines, PIME superior: Situation after passage of Haiyan increasingly serious
    Fr. Giovanni Re says authorities have reopened some airports and some main roads: "Now they will try to move aid by land". Minor damage in Cebu, where the archdiocese has initiated a program of mutual assistance between the parishes still intact and those affected. A sign of hope: A baby girl is born in Tacloban , the worst hit city.

    05/12/2012 PHILIPPINES
    Typhoon Bopha: hundreds dead and 87 thousand displaced in the southern Philippines
    The official toll is about 100 dead, but some sources report 230 and say the number is set to rise. The greatest damage on the southern island of Mindanao. Army and volunteers involved in the rescue operations. Manila emphasizes prevention efforts. Typhoon heads towards the South China Sea.

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