ZAMBO REFUGEES' PLIGHT ALARMS U.N.

Zamboanga City residents who lost their homes during last year’s seige protest government’s failure to address dismal conditions in evacuation centers where they are staying. The United Nations is alarmed by the dismal conditions of tens of thousands of war refugees living in filthy evacuation centers and transition sites in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines.More than 100 refugees had died from diseases in the evacuation centers. The refugees were villagers affected and displaced by rebel attacks mounted in September by the Moro National Liberation Front under Nur Misuari. The attack sparked three weeks of street battles that killed and wounded over 400 people and displaced some 120,000 villagers. “There is an urgent need to find shelter solutions for these IDPs,” said Jens Laerke, spokesperson for the Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), at a press briefing in Geneva, referring to internally displaced persons. Laerke said in the immediate aftermath of the fighting, OCHA announced that the UN emergency relief fund will allocate $3 million to assist those affected by the violence. More than 10,000 homes were destroyed in and around Zamboanga City and, additionally, nearly 19,000 were displaced in Basilan province. Citing current figures from the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Laerke said the remaining IDPs lack access to adequate and safe water and sanitation. Overcrowding in the two biggest evacuation centers, including the Joaquin Enriquez Memorial Sports Complex, is feared to trigger outbreaks of acute respiratory infections, diarrhea and skin diseases. “There is, for example, a need for 940 extra latrines to meet global standards. There is also a water shortage because of rationing imposed last month as reservoirs were low in the dry season,” Laerke said. READ MORE...

ALSO: IN PHOTOS: Tacloban City, 5 months after Yolanda

PHOTO: Barangay 68 in Tacloban City has been renamed "Yolanda Village." Almost five months after Typhoon Yolanda swept through the central Philippines, leaving thousands dead and many thousands more displaced, GMA News Online reporter Rouchelle Dinglasan visited Tacloban City to check on rehabilitation and reconstruction in one of the cities worst hit by the strongest storm to make landfall. Not long after landing at Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport, one could easily find evidence of the devastation that Yolanda left. Some five minutes away from the tarmac, a "tent city" will welcome visitors. Traveling downtown, it is impossible to miss the dilapidated houses and buildings along the road, and one by one sari-sari stores crop up until you reach the heart of the city and its bustling roads. What used to be busy roads due to traffic are now thronged with road constructions. VIEW PHOTOS BELOW...

ALSO: Singapore president visits Samar, hands over donations

Samar, Philippines – Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam arrived here yesterday afternoon to hand over medical equipment and supplies to the Basey District Hospital. Gov. Sharee Ann Tan led local officials in accepting the donations and later gave the Singaporean leader a commendation signed by all provincial board members of Samar. In his speech, Tan said he is optimistic that the “small” donation from his country would symbolize a gesture of friendship and solidarity with the Filipino people. “I hope it can help make some improvement, especially in the most devastated areas,” he said. Last Friday, Tan also handed over $7 million in donations to partner organizations in the Philippines of the Singapore Red Cross (SRC) involved in post-Yolanda rehabilitation projects. Tan added that they also raised funds amounting to $11.45 million for the victims of the super typhoon that hit the Philippines last November.

ALSO: Storm bringing rains to Eastern Visayas, Mindanao

Storm bringing rains to Eastern Visayas, Mindanao by Ellalyn De Vera April 6, 2014 Share this: Manila, Philippines — A tropical storm with the international name “Peipah” is expected to enter the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR) from the Pacific Ocean this afternoon, bringing rains to parts of Eastern Visayas and Eastern Mindanao. Once it enters the PAR, the storm will be locally named “Domeng,” the fourth tropical storm to enter the country’s vicinity this year and the first this month. Jun Galang, weather forecaster of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), said that as of mid-Saturday, “Peipah” was at 1,470 kilometers east of Southern Mindanao or 600 kilometers from the PAR. If it maintains its present track, Galang said, the storm may enter PAR this afternoon. The storm was moving west-northwest at 20 kilometers per hour (kph). It had maximum sustained winds of 65 kph and gustiness of up to 80 kph. Galang said the storm may make landfall over Surigao or Eastern Visayas, or curve south and not hit any part of the country. He said a high-pressure area (HPA) off the West Philippine Sea and the tail-end of a cold front near the extreme Northern Luzon may push the storm away from the country. Parts of extreme Northern Luzon will be spared from hot weather as the tail-end of a cold front affecting the area will bring cloudy skies with scattered light rains and isolated thunderstorms over Cagayan Valley. Tuguegarao which for the past few days recorded high temperatures will experience cloudy skies with light rains as the temperature recorded Friday was at 33 degrees Celsius way below the 37 degrees Celsius recorded earlier.

ALSO: Rains to bring relief as PHL simmers; storm nears Mindanao, Visayas

Tropical Storm Peipah maintained its strength and is expected to enter the Philippine area of responsibility by noon Sunday and make landfall by Tuesday in northeastern Mindanao before crossing central and western Visayas, PAGASA said. The storm should bring some relief to parched areas in those regions where residents have been sweltering in temperatures hovering around 30 degrees Celsius. Luzon is also expected to receive some welcome rain starting on Sunday, as students on vacation sweat out another dry and hot season. PAGASA forecaster Gener Quitlong said on radio dzBB that Peipah was also expected to make landfall over the Caraga area on Tuesday evening, cross Cebu-Mactan, and then exit via Western Visayas. Once Peipah enters the PAR, it will be locally code-named Domeng. This early, fishermen in the eastern parts of Visayas and Mindanao were advised against sailing out to sea due to the possibility of heavy seas.


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Zambo refugees’ plight alarms UN

MANILA, APRIL 7, 2014 (MANILA TIMES) April 5, 2014 11:44 pm by Al Jacinto Senior Correspondent


Zamboanga City residents who lost their homes during last year’s seige protest government’s failure to address dismal conditions in evacuation centers where they are staying. Photo by Al Jacinto

ZAMBOANGA CITY: The United Nations is alarmed by the dismal conditions of tens of thousands of war refugees living in filthy evacuation centers and transition sites in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines.

More than 100 refugees had died from diseases in the evacuation centers. The refugees were villagers affected and displaced by rebel attacks mounted in September by the Moro National Liberation Front under Nur Misuari. The attack sparked three weeks of street battles that killed and wounded over 400 people and displaced some 120,000 villagers.

“There is an urgent need to find shelter solutions for these IDPs,” said Jens Laerke, spokesperson for the Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), at a press briefing in Geneva, referring to internally displaced persons.

Laerke said in the immediate aftermath of the fighting, OCHA announced that the UN emergency relief fund will allocate $3 million to assist those affected by the violence. More than 10,000 homes were destroyed in and around Zamboanga City and, additionally, nearly 19,000 were displaced in Basilan province.

Citing current figures from the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Laerke said the remaining IDPs lack access to adequate and safe water and sanitation. Overcrowding in the two biggest evacuation centers, including the Joaquin Enriquez Memorial Sports Complex, is feared to trigger outbreaks of acute respiratory infections, diarrhea and skin diseases.

“There is, for example, a need for 940 extra latrines to meet global standards. There is also a water shortage because of rationing imposed last month as reservoirs were low in the dry season,” Laerke said.

He added that food distribution to the affected region ended in December 2013. However, nearly 12,000 IDPs and returnees continued to benefit from food-for-work programs, and 11,000 children had received emergency food in their schools.

Laerke said the Zamboanga City government had requested support from humanitarian agencies to assist the families still in evacuation centres and transition sites. “Local authorities have begun implementing their recovery and rehabilitation plan looking at longer-term livelihoods programs,” he said.

Just recently, hundreds of Muslims protested the government’s failure to facilitate the return of refugees to their villages.

The refugees, many of them Tausugs from Sulu; Yakan, from Basilan; and indigenous Badjao tribe from Tawi-Tawi – engaged in fishing and other traditional livelihoods – were being relocated to the far-flung villages of Tulungatung and Taluksangay in the coastal villages of Rio Hondo and Mariki and other areas.

The government has built bunkhouses as temporary shelters for those affected by the violence, but it also warned that villagers who are not natives of Zamboanga will not be allowed to return to their homes unless they can provide certificates to show they are landowners.

Gammar Hassan, one of the refugee leaders, said more than 100 people had died from diseases the past months in evacuation sites and the deaths are continuing due to poor health services and malnutrition and lack of medical and emergency facilities there.

Hassan said majority of the refugees oppose the government’s relocation plan to put them in other areas, saying it would be extremely difficult for them to rebuild their lives. He also urged the local government to allow the refugees to return to their places instead of holding them in evacuation centers.

“Build back better till we all die in pain. Who will enjoy the promised development and rehabilitation? Send us home now, not tomorrow,” Hassan said.

Just before Christmas last year, President Benigno Aquino 3rd flew to Zamboanga City and inspected the refugees’ temporary shelters. Aquino assured the refugees his administration is working closely with various agencies to rebuild houses destroyed during the war.

Aquino said the government already spent some P273.8 million in relief aid and cash-for-work program for displaced Zamboanga residents. He said P3.5 billion more was allocated for the rehabilitation efforts, on top of the millions of pesos that the provincial government of Sulu has sent to Zamboanga to help feed the refugees.

The provincial governments of Basilan and Tawi-Tawi and other non-governmental organizations and private companies also donated cash and food aid to refugees in Zamboanga.

FROM GMA NEWS NETWORK

IN PHOTOS: Tacloban City, 5 months after Yolanda
By ROUCHELLE R. DINGLASAN, GMA NewsApril 1, 2014 8:01pm
30 56 0 411


PHOTO: Barangay 68 in Tacloban City has been renamed "Yolanda Village."

Almost five months after Typhoon Yolanda swept through the central Philippines, leaving thousands dead and many thousands more displaced, GMA News Online reporter Rouchelle Dinglasan visited Tacloban City to check on rehabilitation and reconstruction in one of the cities worst hit by the strongest storm to make landfall.

Not long after landing at Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport, one could easily find evidence of the devastation that Yolanda left. Some five minutes away from the tarmac, a "tent city" will welcome visitors.

Traveling downtown, it is impossible to miss the dilapidated houses and buildings along the road, and one by one sari-sari stores crop up until you reach the heart of the city and its bustling roads. What used to be busy roads due to traffic are now thronged with road constructions.

Moving from Tacloban City to the nearby towns of Palo, Tanauan and Tolosa, the picture was like a recurring image of devastation and hope: broken-down gas stations, bunkhouses, damaged trees, tent cities, tarpaulins with "Tindog Tacloban," and every now and then, the Philippine flag. — JDS/BM, GMA News

The reporter's trip to Tacloban City was sponsored by the German Development Cooperation (GIZ).


A makeshift public toilet near the remains of an actual one in a coastal barangay in Tacloban City.


Although this coastal barangay has been identified as a "no-build zone," residents went back to build their homes using scrap, tarp and other lightweight materials.


Back to business. Sari-sari stores are a common sight in this coastal baranga


The Tacloban City Convention Center is now empty. Evacuees who took refuge there after the typhoon have since moved.


One of the so-called "tent cities" in Tacloban City.


Tacloban City downtown on a Wednesday morning. Tricycles, jeepneys and multicabs ply the streets.


The Marcos family's "Little Malacañang" in Tolosa was not spared from Yolanda's wrath.


A group of students visit a mass grave in a churchyard in Palo, Leyte


No money to have relief goods delivered? You can always heft it home yourself.


In Burawen town in Leyte, the local government has stopped relief good operations. Instead, they provide agriculture needs like seeds and fertilizers.


In Barangay Pago in the town of Tanauan, local and international volunteers work hand in hand to build permanent shelters for Yolanda survivors.

FROM PHILSTAR

Singapore president visits Samar, hands over donations By Ricky Bautista (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 6, 2014 - 12:00am 6 84 googleplus0 0


Samar Gov. Sharee Ann Tan presents a commendation to Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam during his visit to Basey, Samar yesterday. RICKY BAUTISTA BASEY

Samar, Philippines – Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam arrived here yesterday afternoon to hand over medical equipment and supplies to the Basey District Hospital.

Gov. Sharee Ann Tan led local officials in accepting the donations and later gave the Singaporean leader a commendation signed by all provincial board members of Samar.

In his speech, Tan said he is optimistic that the “small” donation from his country would symbolize a gesture of friendship and solidarity with the Filipino people.

“I hope it can help make some improvement, especially in the most devastated areas,” he said.

Last Friday, Tan also handed over $7 million in donations to partner organizations in the Philippines of the Singapore Red Cross (SRC) involved in post-Yolanda rehabilitation projects.

Tan added that they also raised funds amounting to $11.45 million for the victims of the super typhoon that hit the Philippines last November.

He said the funds will be used by their partner organizations to construct and rehabilitate hospitals, shelters, schools and health care facilities as well as for medical supplies and water sanitation.

Tan’s visit to the Philippines reciprocates President Aquino’s state visit to Singapore last month.

Singapore was the Philippines’ fourth largest trade partner in 2013 and the sixth largest source of tourists.

FROM MANILA BULLETIN

Storm bringing rains to Eastern Visayas, Mindanao by Ellalyn De Vera April 6, 2014

Manila, Philippines — A tropical storm with the international name “Peipah” is expected to enter the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR) from the Pacific Ocean this afternoon, bringing rains to parts of Eastern Visayas and Eastern Mindanao.

Once it enters the PAR, the storm will be locally named “Domeng,” the fourth tropical storm to enter the country’s vicinity this year and the first this month.

Jun Galang, weather forecaster of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), said that as of mid-Saturday, “Peipah” was at 1,470 kilometers east of Southern Mindanao or 600 kilometers from the PAR. If it maintains its present track, Galang said, the storm may enter PAR this afternoon.

The storm was moving west-northwest at 20 kilometers per hour (kph). It had maximum sustained winds of 65 kph and gustiness of up to 80 kph.

Galang said the storm may make landfall over Surigao or Eastern Visayas, or curve south and not hit any part of the country. He said a high-pressure area (HPA) off the West Philippine Sea and the tail-end of a cold front near the extreme Northern Luzon may push the storm away from the country.

For the next two days, the country will have partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rain showers or thunderstorms mostly in the afternoon or evening, as the easterly winds are expected to prevail until Monday.

By Tuesday, as the tropical cyclone moves closer towards Mindanao, cloudy skies and scattered rain showers and thunderstorms are expected to prevail over Eastern Visayas and Mindanao.

Metro Manila and the rest of the country will have partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rain showers or thunderstorms mostly in the afternoon or evening.

Rainfall in April is generally below normal levels in most parts of the country, except in some areas in Western Mindanao and portions of the Caraga Region, which are expected to receive near to above normal rainfall.

Near to above-normal rainfall may be experienced in May and June. This condition may favor the normal onset of the rainy season expected by the latter part of May or early part of June.

Parts of extreme Northern Luzon will be spared from hot weather as the tail-end of a cold front affecting the area will bring cloudy skies with scattered light rains and isolated thunderstorms over Cagayan Valley.

Tuguegarao which for the past few days recorded high temperatures will experience cloudy skies with light rains as the temperature recorded Friday was at 33 degrees Celsius way below the 37 degrees Celsius recorded earlier.

The rest of the country, including Metro Manila, will still have warm weather except for isolated rain showers or thunderstorms. (With a report from PNA)

FROM GMA NEWS NETWORK

Rains to bring relief as PHL simmers; storm nears Mindanao, Visayas April 6, 2014 5:57am 88 9 1 1452


From Blog Page by Nan Wu - A boy dived into polluted Manila Bay in the Philippines to beat the simmering heat Wednesday.

Tropical Storm Peipah maintained its strength and is expected to enter the Philippine area of responsibility by noon Sunday and make landfall by Tuesday in northeastern Mindanao before crossing central and western Visayas, PAGASA said.

The storm should bring some relief to parched areas in those regions where residents have been sweltering in temperatures hovering around 30 degrees Celsius.

Luzon is also expected to receive some welcome rain starting on Sunday, as students on vacation sweat out another dry and hot season.

PAGASA forecaster Gener Quitlong said on radio dzBB that Peipah was also expected to make landfall over the Caraga area on Tuesday evening, cross Cebu-Mactan, and then exit via Western Visayas.

Once Peipah enters the PAR, it will be locally code-named Domeng.

This early, fishermen in the eastern parts of Visayas and Mindanao were advised against sailing out to sea due to the possibility of heavy seas.

Also, residents in areas to be affected by Tropical Storm Peipah were advised to take precautions.

As of 4 a.m., Peipah was located 1,330 kilometers east of southern Mindanao, with maximum sustained winds of 65 kilometers per hour near the center, and gustiness of up to 80 kph.

Peipah was forecast to move west-northwest at 20 kph.

Cold front

Quitlong also said that the tail-end of a cold-front would affect extreme northern Luzon, including Cagayan Valley, on Sunday.

Because of this, PAGASA predicted cloudy skies with scattered light rains and isolated thunderstorms over Cagayan Valley. The rest of the country will be cloudy, with isolated rain showers or thunderstorms mostly in the afternoon or evening.

Winds will be moderate to strong from the northeast to east over extreme northern Luzon, with coastal waters along this area to be moderate to rough.

Elsewhere, winds will be light to moderate winds coming from the east to northeast with slight to moderate seas.

Saturday temperatures in Metro Manila rose to a high of 34.5 degrees Celsius, measured at 1:50 p.m. It was coolest at 6 a.m. at 23.5 degrees. — Joel Locsin/DVM/HS, GMA News


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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