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UN seeks $46.8M for quake victims

A man carries his child by the destroyed historic St. Michael Parish church in Clarin, Bohol. (Jay Directo, AFP)
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines -- The United Nations appealed for $46.8 million in international aid on Friday for the hundreds of thousands now living in tents after last week’s deadly Central Visayas earthquake.

The 7.2-magnitude quake flattened homes, schools, clinics and other vital infrastructure and killed more than 200 people.

But a further 35,000 families need emergency shelter while more than 300,000 residents of Bohol require assistance for basic needs like water, sanitation, food, and health services for six months, UN resident humanitarian coordinator Luizha Carvalho said.

"At this moment, the Philippines is the one (country) that really stands alone with the highest of needs and the highest requirements," Carvalho told a news conference.

She said she hoped donors would still give money despite a series of recent natural and man-made disasters that also required international assistance, such as a destructive typhoon in December last year and the deadly standoff between government forces and the Moro National Liberation Front that destroyed parts of Zamboanga City last month.

"We have a very interesting pattern of several events that are happening almost simultaneously and we still hope for the generosity of the donors," Carvalho said.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the Philippines have asked donor governments and aid groups to give more on top of those already providing for survivors of typhoon “Pablo” (international codename: Bopha) and the Zamboanga conflict.

World Food Program representative Praveen Agrawal said many quake survivors were still living under makeshift tents that would not stand up to heavy rain.

"We need to move fast. If we are overtaken by rains, the situation could become even more serious," he added.

Carvalho said UN aid agencies had only raised $43 million for victims of Pablo, far short of the $76 million it originally sought to help rebuild lives after a storm that left nearly 2,000 people dead or missing in the south.

They have also raised $26 million for Zamboanga, where three weeks of fighting left more than 140 people dead, she added.

"The international community are very generous if they are able to see a good argument and a good case that is put together... and that is what we find in the Philippines," she said.