• U.N.: Increase Philippine Aid; Red Cross Cautious

    MANILA, December 10, 2013 (AFP) – The Red Cross warned against aid dependency in the Philippines Tuesday as the United Nations urged donors to double their assistance to millions of victims of the country’s deadliest-ever typhoon.

    The secretary general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Bekele Geleta said that, a month after Super Typhoon Haiyan devastated the islands, longer-term recovery needs should begin to take precedence over food aid.

    “There are still needs and gaps in delivery of food and emergency shelter materials to some areas, but we must look towards gradually reducing people’s dependency on food aid,” he said in a statement a day after completing a 72-hour visit to the disaster zone.

    Haiyan swept across the central Philippines on November 8, destroying scores of communities along its path.

    The typhoon brought with it tsunami-like storm surges, which swallowed up many coastal areas and were blamed for majority of the nearly 6,000 deaths.

    More than 1,700 people remain missing and about four million have been displaced.

    Geleta called for the stepping up of “cash for work and cash transfer programmes that put money in people’s pockets”.

    In Geneva the spokesman for the UN disaster agency, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said Tuesday it was raising its appeal for the Philippines to $791 million to cover needs over 12 months.

    The figure was more than double the $348 million it had earlier sought to cover needs over six months, OCHA spokesman Jens Laerke told reporters.

    “The original plan was really urgent life-saving assistance with a relatively short timeline. Now we are looking at longer-term projects into rehabilitation and reconstruction,” he added.

    Taking into account the earlier aid appeal, the larger figure sought is now about 25 percent funded, Laerke said.

    Geleta said cash grant transfer programmes to help 50,000 of the hardest-hit families are to be launched this month to provide a boost to people whose livelihoods have either been disrupted or destroyed by the storm.

    “Thousands have lost their income and this approach gives them dignity and allows them to set their own priorities,” he said.

    “They can buy what they need and at the same time, money being spent locally will help to revitalise the economy of the area.”

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