Thursday, January 12, 2012

Remote parts of flood-struck Mindanao lose out on aid

Thin Lei Win in AlertNet: Almost a month after a fatal storm hit the north of Mindanao island in the Philippines, relief efforts are largely ignoring hundreds of thousands of affected people in remote areas and outside evacuation centres, the United Nations’ refugee agency told AlertNet.

In mid-December Tropical Storm Washi, said to be one of the country’s worst natural disasters in two decades, killed more than 1,200 people on the conflict-ravaged island in the southern Philippines. It also destroyed more than 10,000 houses and displaced more than 300,000 people, mainly in the cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro. About 176 people are still missing, the latest U.N. situation report showed.

“Our biggest concern is that charities and aid agencies seem to be providing assistance to evacuation centres only. People living outside the centres and (in) remote places are not getting the same support,” Brenda Escalante, associate protection officer for the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) in the Philippines, told AlertNet by phone from the disaster zone.

“Even without typhoons, these remotes communities were already marginalised and poor... they are also victims of the conflict that is affecting the island, so the disaster is compounding their problems.” A decades-old conflict between government forces and Muslim separatists in Mindanao has killed 120,000 people, displaced 2 million and stunted growth in the poor but resource-rich island....

NASA satellite image of the Philippines

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