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Sendong victims need more funds, UN appeals anew

/ 06:59 PM February 06, 2012

ILIGAN CITY, Philippines—The United Nations has asked the international community for more funds to effectively meet the humanitarian challenges in the aftermath of Tropical Storm “Sendong” that devastated this city more than a month ago.

From an initial amount of $28.4 million, the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-Ocha) is appealing for $39 million in response to “the dramatic increase of needs” of more than 300,000 people for a six-month period.

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So far, the agency said $9.6 million had been raised, including $3 million disbursed from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund to support aid activities in the immediate aftermath of the storm.

Torrential rains brought by Sendong triggered flash floods in 13 provinces on Dec. 16-18 last year. According to UN estimates, nearly 48,000 houses were damaged and 625,000 people lost their livelihood.

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More than 550,000 were also forced out of their homes.

Hardest hit were the northern Mindanao cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, where entire communities were wiped out by rampaging waters.

Seven weeks after the disaster, some 21,900 survivors remain in crowded evacuation centers in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, and more than 400,000 people continue seeking refuge in makeshift shelters and with host families in their areas of origin, the UN further noted.

Some have returned to their damaged houses in highly hazardous and disaster-prone areas even as government already declared these ‘no-build’ zones.

“Many lives have been saved through our interventions to date, but unless this assistance is sustained and adequate shelter solutions are provided to all the displaced, many will remain vulnerable and unable to sustain themselves and their families,” said Jacqui Badcock, UN resident and humanitarian coordinator in the Philippines.

Badcock urged donors to “back the new response plan and the affected communities of Mindanao generously”.

A UN-Ocha news release said the revised appeal, which indicated a $10.6 million rise in estimated resource needs, contained “an adjusted plan of action developed by the Government and aid agencies following a second phase of multi-cluster rapid assessments and sector specific assessments.”

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It also considered the extent of response carried out to date, the agency said.

The revised humanitarian action plan outlined “prioritized provision of assistance” to affected people, whether they are staying in evacuation centers, transitional shelters, seeking refuge in makeshift houses or with relatives in areas where their homes used to stand before the disaster.

It further addressed the special needs of “vulnerable groups,” such as women, children, the elderly and persons with disabilities, and people in remote rural areas which have been cut off from the urban hubs and largely under-served in aid provision.

The new appeal includes 48 projects in 13 key sectors prepared by 13 nongovernment groups, 10 UN agencies, and one international organization, the UN-Ocha said.

“I have been tremendously encouraged to witness the tireless efforts of the government, aid organizations, civil society and the affected communities themselves to provide vital assistance to hundreds of thousands of Sendong survivors,” Badcock said.

“Sustained, generous financial support is crucial to enable provision of basic goods and services and the rebuilding of resilient communities,” she added.

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