P1.3B needed for ‘Pablo’ areas–ICRC

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DAVAO CITY—The Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Friday said it needed more than P1.3 billion in additional donations to support its efforts in Pablo-devastated areas because “humanitarian needs [there are] still staggeringly high more than two months” after the typhoon made landfall.

It was estimated that Typhoon “Pablo” had killed nearly 2,000 people, wiped out residential areas and livelihoods and destroyed more than 90 percent of infrastructure in Davao Oriental, Compostela Valley and parts of the two Agusan provinces.

“This typhoon left a staggering level of damage along the eastern coast of Mindanao. In the worst-hit communities of Baganga, Cateel, Boston and Caraga (all in Davao Oriental), people are left with almost nothing. Not only have they lost their homes, but they are worried about their future since the crops they depend on to earn a living have been almost totally destroyed,” said Alain Aeschlimann, ICRC’s head of operations for East Asia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific, in a statement furnished the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Aeschlimann said the destruction caused by the typhoon had left the victims “with few resources, as most have lost not only their homes but also the sources of their livelihood” that they have not recovered yet since December 4.

He said the aid group had projected that because of the magnitude of the devastation, the typhoon victims in Davao Oriental, Compostela Valley and Agusan provinces, numbering about 300,000, would still not be able to stand on their own and would need support during the next five months.

These efforts, he said, entail huge funding, and the ICRC has estimated that the cost of additional assistance to cover the next five months would be more than P1.3 billion.

But Aeschlimann said for the ICRC to be able to meet “the most critical needs” of the typhoon victims, including food, it immediately needed P433 million, which was why it would launch a preliminary appeal in the next few days to cover just the said amount.

“Together with the Philippine Red Cross, we will provide food and other essentials, such as tarpaulins, mosquito nets, cooking utensils and soap and other hygiene items,” he said.

Aeschlimann said aside from providing them their basic needs, ICRC would also help the  victims in restoring their lost livelihoods by providing farmers seeds, seedlings, tools and equipment so they could restart their farming activities.

“To ensure that even the worst-affected communities can obtain basic necessities, the ICRC and its local partner, the Philippine National Red Cross, will support the repair of damaged water supply systems and the reconstruction of health facilities,” he said.

Part of the donations that will be raised will also go to repairs of partially damaged houses, Aeschlimann said.

“Our priority will be to provide people with emergency assistance, keeping in mind the mid-term goal of helping them to resume their normal lives,” he said.

The ICRC has been in the forefront of humanitarian work in the last 150 years.

On February 17, the aid group will celebrate its anniversary by continuing its work all over the world.

“This anniversary provides us with an opportunity to look critically at our past, and also to develop awareness of the strengths that have helped us in our activities,” Peter Maurer,   ICRC president, said in a separate statement.

He said the ICRC would also work with “a plethora of NGOs (nongovernment organizations) and other humanitarian organizations endeavoring to serve communities with competing approaches” to better coordinate humanitarian efforts, “and pay very careful attention to the opinions of those we are seeking to help—and give them the opportunity to play an active role in these efforts, the ultimate aim of which is to enable people in need to achieve a lasting recovery.” Allan Nawal, Inquirer Mindanao

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