Red Cross nudges world: Don't forget Haiyan
MANILA, Philippines – Top officials of the Red Cross challenged the world Wednesday, February 12, to address the “huge needs” lingering in the Philippines nearly 100 days after Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) killed thousands and left wastelands.
Alain Aeschlimann, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) head of operations for Asia and the Pacific, said the world tends to forget even huge disasters.
“You know that international media attention is very short on some context. Now they are focusing on other issues in other countries. It's very important to raise awareness that there are still huge needs in the Philippines, and that it's important to accompany these communities still for a couple of months,” Aeschlimann said in a media conference Wednesday. (Watch more in the video below.)
Along with him, other representatives from the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement met in Pasay City “to discuss future support to victims of the typhoon.”
Their meeting came before the Philippines marks on Sunday, February 16, the 100th day after Yolanda thrust the Philippines in its biggest reconstruction effort after World War II. (READ: PH needs P361B for post-Yolanda rehab)
Aeschlimann's concerns find basis in the amount of aid that the Philippines has received so far.
Only 20.84% of total cash pledges have actually reached the Philippine government, according to data from its Foreign Aid Transparency Hub (FAITH) as of Wednesday.
These data show that the Philippines has gotten P648.179 million ($13.337 million) in cash from the international community – only a fifth of the P3.11 billion ($69.107 million) that the world promised.
The world, after all, tends to “forget,” in the words of United Nations Development Program associate administrator Rebecca Grynspan in January. (READ: Haiyan cash pledges: PH gets only 20%)
The same thing happened in Haiti, which a magnitude-7 earthquake devastated in January 2010.
Two years after countries promised it $4.5 billion in aid, only 53% of aid reached Haiti, according to UN figures cited by The Guardian in 2012.
Senate President Franklin Drilon, an ally of the President, didn't spare even the United Nations (UN) from criticism. He chided the UN last Thursday, February 6, for its lack of assistance in building permanent shelters for Yolanda survivors.
Gordon defends DPWH
Philippine Red Cross chair Richard “Dick” Gordon said Filipinos, in any case, have been “coping." “They're coping because the whole world is helping,” he said.
Gordon said the Red Cross – which “will be there long after everybody has gone” – plans to build up to 130,000 more homes in Yolanda-stricken communities.
His group, he added, wants to build homes that will withstand disasters “without being exorbitant.”
The Philippine Red Cross, in fact, said 57% of its P13.7-billion recovery budget will go to shelters.
This will supplement moves by the government to repair or rebuild 1.14 million houses damaged by Yolanda.
The government's program has drawn criticism for supposedly failing to adhere to international standards. (READ: Erring Haiyan contractors off the hook?)
Gordon, for his part, said he chooses to “hold high” Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, “inspite of the fact that he's getting a shellacking.”
He cited the difficulties that the Red Cross itself encountered in helping rebuild Leyte. “You know, there's pressure to build bunkhouses. Do you realize how hard it is to bring material to Leyte? In the beginning, it took us 4 days by land,” Gordon said.
The government, the Red Cross, and other groups face the task not of only rebuilding shelters, but helping 16 million people cope after one of the world's worst disasters. – Rappler.com