UN Philippines fund 'falls short'

Original article from BBC

Rescue workers digging out La Trinidad in Benguet province - 13 October 2009

Many people were buried in landslides triggered by heavy rains

A UN appeal for funds to help the millions of people hit by storms and floods in the Philippines has raised only a quarter of the amount sought.

The UN’s emergency relief co-ordinator, John Holmes, said its appeal for $74m (£47m) had raised only $19m so far.

Back-to-back typhoons in little more than a week triggered landslides and widespread flooding, killing at least 650 people and leaving many homeless.

The government has estimated the cost of the damage to be at least $350m.

Losses to agriculture and fisheries is expected to total much more.

Disease risk

Mr Holmes said the UN may increase the size of its emergency appeal.

"The crisis is by no means over. Indeed the hard work is just starting," he said in the Philippine capital, Manila.

He said that many villages were still inundated with water, several weeks after Typhoon Ketsana struck on 26 September, raising the risk of diseases spreading.

Bundles of food are carried across a stretch of road buried by a landslide in Tublay town, Benguet province - 13 October 2009

Relief supplies have to be carried across landslides in some areas

Another typhoon, Parma, struck on 3 October and lingered for days, dumping more rain on the already saturated north of the Philippine archipelago.

"Water has been standing already now for three weeks, and is still waist, or chest-deep in places. People are living amongst this water, wading through it, children playing in it," Mr Holmes told the BBC.

"The longer the water is there and is stagnant, the greater the risk of diseases which come from water – malaria, dengue fever, diarrhoea, skin infections, leptospirosis."

About six million people have been affected by the double natural disasters, the Philippine government has estimated, with hundreds of thousands made homeless.

Large parts of Manila and surrounding suburbs were badly flooded while huge landslides in the northern mountains buried a number of villages.

Roads and bridges have been blocked and the military has been using helicopters to drop aid to cut-off areas.