UN appeals for €300 million in aid for Philippines

World body says some 673,000 people had been displaced

Residents gather In Tacloban amidst the devastation icaused by Typhoon Haiyan

Residents gather In Tacloban amidst the devastation icaused by Typhoon Haiyan


Peter Murtagh in Cebu, the Philippines  

The United Nations wants to step up significantly its relief operation in the Philippines and has appealed for member states to give more than €300 million in aid.

The world body said yesterday that some 673,000 people had been displaced as a result of Typhoon Haiyan, which struck the country almost a week ago.

The official death toll stood last night at more than 2,300, but in spite of comments to the contrary by the Philippines president Benigno Aquino, local officials and aid agencies believe the final figure could be much higher.

Mr Aquino had said an initial estimate of 10,000 killed by the typhoon may be “too high”. However, communication with the worst affected areas of Leyte island and its capital city Tacloban, which had a population of 220,000, remains extremely difficult, so the full extent of the devastation wreaked by Haiyan.  

ANC Television said security forces exchanged fire with armed men amid widespread looting of shops and warehouses for food, water and other supplies in the village of Abucay, on Leyte. Military officials were unable immediately to confirm the fighting.

Eight people were crushed to death when looters raided rice stockpiles in a government warehouse in the town of Alangalang, also on Leyte, causing a wall to collapse, local authorities said.  

Reports from Tacloban saidthe airport, open only to military planes and smaller commercial aircraft, is still unable to cope and that the city itself is clogged with refugees and debris. Residents had become angry at the lack of progress and increasing breakdown in security, the BBC reported.

Bodies remained uncollected, local government has been wiped out, and central government has yet fully to assert its power.   Other reports from the city said bodies remained in some streets with no evidence of any organised delivery of food, water or medical supplies, though piles of aid had begun to arrive at the airport.

  On Cebu, however, a city and island close to stricken Leyte, visible efforts were being made in several urban areas of the borth of the island to restore essential services such as electricity. Nevertheless, people in the worst affected areas lined the roads pleading for help from passing motorists.

A 100-tonne consignment of Irish aid arrived yesterday in Cebu. It included 599 tents, 700 tarpaulins, 10,000 blankets and 880 ropes and will be distributed by Plan Ireland. It is hoped this can be done by the weekend, if customs can be cleared speedily.   “We have a team on the ground now working with the local authorities and we hope to get moving fast,” said Dualta Roughneen of Plan Ireland, who is in Manila.  

This package, worth an estimated €510,000, is in addition to the €1 million announced on Sunday by Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore, and €446,000 of Irish Aid dispatched last month after an earthquake hit Bohol, another island in the Philippines.  

Other Irish charities are mobilising emergency response teams or already with staff on the ground in the Philippines include Christian Aid Ireland, Concern, Goal, the Irish Red Cross, Oxfam Ireland, Unicef and World Vision.

x ref to Peter Murtagh’s report from Cebu, page 11