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Extra support needed for typhoon-affected families in the Philippines

The United Nations (UN) has this week asked for more money as part of its emergency appeal to support those affected by typhoon Washi in the Philippines.

Originally, the UN and its partner organisations had wanted to raise 28.4 million dollars, but this figure has been revised to 39 million. The extra money is needed to continue offering emergency assistance to over 300,000 Filipinos living in the north of the island of Mindanao.

Typhoon Washi struck the Philippines last December, devastating whole areas of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities. Over 1,250 people lost their lives and nearly 8,000 families ended up living in evacuation centres. Aid organisations have been working to support locals in the repair of their properties. However, many families have nowhere to go and must rely on receiving food, clothes and other support at the temporary evacuation centres which were set up.

According to a statement issued by the UN, these families require “sustained assistance”, since they are “without homes and livelihoods”. Now that all the early emergency needs are over, the UN plans to focus on providing “adequate shelter solutions” for all the displaced. The government of the Philippines is already working to identify suitable land which could be used for either temporary or permanent relocation sites. The first permanent homes are expected to be available by July this year. Meanwhile, schools which are being used as evacuation centres have been reopened. Evacuees remain in gyms or covered courts while the pupils attend classes and families then go back to sleep in the classrooms at night.

Meanwhile, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has expressed concern about youngsters caught up in the disaster. A UNICEF representative for the Philippines has warned that malnutrition rates in the region were already high and a recent screening of over 200 children showed a 50% increase in these rates. The spokesperson warned that severely malnourished children would die if left untreated. There is particular concern among agencies for children living in remote communities outside Iligan and in parts of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. Families here were already vulnerable because of long-running conflict in the region. The International Organization for Migration confirmed that many communities remained cut-off by the typhoon and were in desperate need of food, clothing and supplies. The army continues to fly in goods to remote areas twice each day, however materials for shelters were too heavy to transport by helicopter. Until roads are cleared, the situation for some hard-to-reach villages will remain extremely precarious.

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