UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon greets children at Manlurip Elementary School in Tacloban City yesterday.
TACLOBAN CITY: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stepped up an appeal for funds to help the Philippines recover from a devastating typhoon last month after visiting stricken areas yesterday.
“I was very saddened by what I have seen in Tacloban — total destruction, and an enormous number of people have been lost, we need to support them,” Ban said after driving miles past flattened and damaged houses.
Haiyan reduced almost everything in its path to rubble when it swept ashore in the central Philippines on November 8, killing at least 6,102 people, with nearly 1,800 missing, and four million either homeless or with damaged homes.
The United Nations announced an appeal this week for $800m of funding to provide 12 months of assistance for 14 million people affected by Haiyan, the strongest typhoon to ever hit land. The funds would be used to provide access to food, shelter, water, health and sanitation services.
The call for funding was part of the highest UN annual appeal ever of $12.9bn for 2014, with more than half going to Syria and its neighbours.
So far, the United Nations has received only 30 percent of targeted amount for the Philippines.
“Of course, there are many other areas where we need the resources like supporting the Syrian refugees and Syrian people,” Ban said. “But this time, this cannot be done alone. I appeal to the international community to support the Filipino people.”
Wearing a baseball cap and a tan shirt, the 69-year-old South Korean UN chief walked through a narrow, debris-strewn street in Fatima, a coastal district in the city of 220,000 people that was obliterated by tsunami-like storm surges wrought by the typhoon.
A ship that ploughed through the neighbourhood after being hurled by huge waves lay stranded nearby, six weeks after the deluge.
Ban also visited a Tacloban tent school, put up by the UN Children’s Fund, where pupils who had lost their homes sang Christmas carols for him. He handed out backpacks to almost 200 elementary school children there.
On Wednesday, President Benigno Aquino unveiled the government’s 361 billion pesos ($8.2bn) reconstruction plan, appealing for help from donor agencies and the international humanitarian community as he promised corruption-free use of aid.
“My message to the Filipino is that never despair, the United Nations is behind you, the world is behind you” Ban said as he surveyed the mountain of debris and what little was left of a coastal village in Tacloban City.
Ban arrived in Manila late on Friday and called on President Benigno Aquino earlier yesterday before flying to Tacloban.