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Scale of Philippines aid effort like helping 'whole of Belgium'

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Scale of Philippines aid effort like helping 'whole of Belgium'


The UN says getting relief supplies to the millions affected by the Philippines typhoon is a “logistical nightmare” admitting that some areas have still not received any aid 10 days after the disaster.

Bernard Kerblat, UN High Commissioner for Refugees representative for the Philippines, said the agency was still facing coordination problems and bottlenecks.

“As of now, personally, I am not so sure that we’ve reached every single portion of the territory where people are in need of aid,” he said.

“And, in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised that unfortunately that there might still be, as I’m speaking to you, day 11 of this disaster, there might be still very isolated islands.”

At San Jose in the badly-hit Leyte province, people were deemed to be so desperate that unusually, US marines delivered emergency packages without securing the area first.

Orla Fagan, a spokeswoman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said it was a “logistical nightmare” to get relief supplies out at all.

“The size, the quantity of people that have been affected by this, this is massive, between 10 and 12.9 million people have to be assisted to recover from this. This is absolutely huge. It’s like taking the whole of Belgium and trying to assist.”

Philippines authorities, the US military and international agencies now believe nearly four million people were displaced by the catastrophe, up from last week’s estimate of 900,000.

On Manicani island in Samar province, Typhoon Haiyan devastated more than 90 percent of homes and the islanders’ main livelihood.

“The truth is it will be difficult for us to survive because our boats and canoes are gone. We cannot go out fishing,” said one man.

“We need shelter, even if it’s just a tent or something to cover our heads when it rains,” a woman added.

The World Bank and Asian Development Bank have pledged loans totalling 750 million euros, but the Philippines government says the cost of rebuilding will be much more.

President Benigno Aquino visited the town of Palo, just south of worst-hit Tacloban city, where engineers have salvaged generators to light up the streets and town hall again.

“One is tempted to despair, but the minute I despair, then everybody, it cascades down and everybody gets hampered in their efforts,” he said.

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