10/29/2014, 00.00
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Filipino Church builds more than 1,600 housing units for Yolanda victims

New, permanent units were built in all nine ecclesiastical sees hit by the typhoon. The aim is to complete at least 3,000 units by the end of the year. For NASSA executive secretary, many families have already received their shelter. The priest calls on the government to hurry up; so far it has not yet handed out the aid it had promised.

Manila (AsiaNews/CBCP) - Less than two weeks before the first anniversary of Typhoon Yolanda, Caritas Philippines, locally known as the National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA), announced that as many as 1,600 houses had already been built out of the 3,000 and more planned.

Housing units can be found in all nine ecclesiastical sees hit by the typhoon, which made landfall on 8 November in the central part of archipelago sowing death and destruction.

As the country prepares to remember the tragedy and commemorate its victims, reconstruction continues in the areas affected by the disaster.

"We are targeting more than 3,000 [units] this year. So far, we have accomplished more than half of the project," said Fr Edu Gariguez, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines-National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice, and Peace (NASSA).

A number of families have already moved into newly built permanent shelters, Fr Gariguez explained, and many additional housing units are still under construction.

The priest stressed the projects in the area prove that the Church continues to respond to the needs of those rendered helpless by the calamity.

"These are permanent shelters, not transitional ones that are easy to build," he explained.

Gariguez noted that many Yolanda survivors have not yet to receive any concrete assistance from the government.

He called on the authorities to make public the number of houses it was able to build for homeless survivors, as well as the number of people it helped.

Haiyan/Yolanda hit the Visayas Islands on 8 November 2013, affecting some 11 million people, in 574 different cities and municipalities. Returning to a normal life has been priced at US$ 8 billion.

Almost a year later, more than 1,700 people are still missing. Although President Aquino took a conservative line, noting that the first estimates of more than 10,000 dead was the result of an emotional reaction to the tragedy and that the death toll stood at around 2,500, the actual death toll is thought to exceed 5,000.

Assistance has been particularly hampered by the fact that the natural disaster affected a vast area of scattered islands, compounded by specific local difficulties,

In the weeks following the tragedy, the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions PIME also launched a fundraising campaign to help survivors.

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