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UN: $19.2M needed for ‘Yolanda’ victims

The United Nations refugee agency has launched a fresh appeal for emergency aid for survivors of Typhoon Yolanda, which smashed into the Philippines last month, leaving nearly 7,500 people dead or missing.

The office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said it now needs $19.2 million to address “primary protection issues” for devastated communities, more than double the $8.3 million it has raised so far.

“Almost a month after the typhoon, its effects show no sign of abating,” said Bernard Kerblat, UNHCR representative in the Philippines.

“Today, more than ever, protection and humanitarian assistance are needed to ensure that no more lives will be taken by the consequences of this devastating typhoon.”

Tens of thousands of families remain displaced and an estimated 5,000 people are believed to be fleeing the hard-hit central islands of Leyte and Samar every day for the country’s main cities of Manila and Cebu, he said in a statement.

The typhoon, one of the strongest in Philippine history, unleashed 315-kilometre (195-mile) per-hour winds and tsunami-like storm surges across the central islands on November 8, killing 5,680 people, with 1,779 others still missing.

It wrecked dozens of towns and left more than four million survivors needing emergency assistance, including 125,000 who remain in evacuation centres, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said Tuesday.

The beefed-up aid appeal launched Monday by the refugee agency is aimed at distributing more life-saving supplies, including 98,600 plastic sheets, 7,500 tents and 19,000 solar lanterns, among other items.

The UN announced last week that it would shortly increase its overall appeal, which currently stands at a total of $348 million, of which about half has been raised.

“This new (UNHCR) appeal will form part of the upcoming UN aid appeal,” Johanna Morden, external relations associate for the UNHCR told AFP.