Still no aid in some areas – UN
Manila, Philippines – The United Nations is investigating reports that aid has yet to reach remote parts of the Philippines a month after the onslaught of super-typhoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan), the UN humanitarian chief said on Monday.
Valerie Amos, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said she had expected that aid had been delivered by helicopter to survivors even in the most remote outlying islands following the Nov. 8 disaster that left close to 6,000 people dead.
“Although we’ve got significant aid now coming in to the major centers, we still have a little bit of a worry that in a couple of the smaller islands there may be needs there that we haven’t managed to meet yet,” she said.
“I’m still hearing worrying reports in the media – indeed I heard one this morning – where people said they hadn’t received any aid as yet, and we’re looking into that,” she said.
Smart, Sun Restore Cellphone Lines
As this developed, mobile communication lines have been restored in areas devastated by the super- typhoon.
As of December 8, 2013, Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) and Digitel Mobile Philippines, Inc. (DMPI), through its brand Sun Cellular (Sun), had restored network services in all the cities and municipalities in Visayas that were hit by Yolanda.
In a report submitted to the National Telecommunications Commission yesterday, the companies said they were able to re-establish cellular service in 100 percent of all cities and municipalities of the following provinces: Aklan, Antique, Biliran, Bohol, Capiz, Cebu, Eastern Samar, Guimaras, Iloilo, Leyte, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Northern Samar, Southern Leyte and Western Samar.
“We wish to thank key national government agencies such as the Office of the President, the National Telecommunications Commission, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine Air Force and the local governments of the affected areas for helping us repair our facilities in the most rapid way possible,” said Roland G. Peña, PLDT and Smart Technology Group Head.
Yolanda Death Toll Rises
Yolanda and its tsunami-like storm surge plowed through Tacloban and other coastal areas, leaving 5,924 dead and more than 1,700 missing throughout the region. About 4 million people were displaced.
Amos, in Australia for aid talks with the government, defended the Philippine government against criticisms that it was too slow to deliver aid to victims.
She said the Philippines responded to more than 20 typhoons a year and was well prepared for storms.
“But the scale and severity of this was something which none of us could have anticipated,” Amos said.
Of the 5,924 dead, 5,087 have been confirmed killed in the province of Leyte where several coastal communities were flattened by Yolanda.
The other fatalities came from Samar, Eastern Samar, Cebu, Iloilo, Antique, Capiz, Aklan, Negros Occidental, Bohol, Biliran, Zamboanga City, Surigao Del Sur, Masbate, Albay, Palawan, Batangas, and Quezon.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has admitted that it is impossible to identify all fatalities of Yolanda as more decomposing bodies were retrieved from the rubble.
One month after the catastrophe, only 11 percent of bodies recovered here were identified.
The NBI team said the number and the severe stage of decomposition of the retrieved cadavers posed challenges in their efforts to identify all storm casualties.
1,779 Still Missing
The number of injured stood at 27,022 while those missing remained at 1,779.
Yolanda, which authorities described as having gone island-hopping for making five separate landfalls, has affected 2,602,584 families or 12,279,561 people in 44 provinces in the country.
Of the total affected population, close to four million people were displaced, with more than 100,000 persons still taking shelter in 386 evacuation centers.
The unimaginable destruction left by Yolanda has brought together the international community, including former enemy forces during the second world war, as they scrambled to deliver immediate relief to millions of typhoon survivors who were left without food, medicine, clothing, and shelter.
The NDRRMC said estimated cost of damage due to the monster storm is pegged at P35,527,886,330.67 as of Monday, including P18,206,735,334.29 in infrastructure and P17,321,150,996.38 in agriculture.
After weeks of focus on the delivery of relief packs to survivors, the government has shifted to rehabilitation efforts, noting that Yolanda totally destroyed 585,134 houses and damaged 592,060 others.
And as the government worked to help rebuild communities destroyed by Yolanda, NDRRMC executive director Eduardo Del Rosario said evacuation centers should be established in “safe zones.”
Del Rosario said evacuation centers must now be made resilient to earthquakes, flooding, and storm surges.
Help From Pinoys In Japan
Filipinos in Tokyo, Japan, will present to President Benigno S. Aquino III this week a symbolic check for Y1 million (P426,007) for victims of the super-typhoon.
The presentation will be one of the highlights of the President’s meeting with the Filipino community shortly after his arrival here Thursday afternoon.
Expected to present the check are Jenavila Shigemizu, chairman of the Philippine Barrio Fiesta Executive Committee, and Olive Akatsu.
Meanwhile, Australian Defense Force engineers and sailors working in Ormoc as part of the “Recovery Support Group” have focused their clean-up efforts on schools, helping more than 14,500 students return to classes at 13 schools.
Since the Australians arrive last Nov. 27, they have repaired 175 classrooms and removed over 850 cubic meters of debris. (With a report from PNA)