Calamities displace 4.7 million Filipinos

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IN just 60 days, more than four million Filipinos were displaced by a series of calamities that struck the country, according to an international relief agency.

Bernard Kerblat, country representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in the Philippines, said that from September 9 to November 8, there were 14 events that led to the displacement of more than 4.7 million Filipinos.

Super Typhoon Yolanda alone forced more than four million people to leave their homes, Keblat said.

With the large number of displaced people, Kerblat called for law upholding the rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs).


“This underlines the need for a specific law that addresses the critical vulnerabilities and protection concerns of IDPs,” said Kerblat adding that if enacted, this will be the first of its kind in the Asia-Pacific.

The UNHCR in February 2913 lauded the Philippine Congress for passing legislation espousing the right of IDPs to protection and assistance. The measure was eventually vetoed by President Benigno Aquino 3rd in May.

The agency welcomed fresh efforts in the legislature to revive the bill.

“The frequent advent of disasters in this country shows the necessity for a legislative framework to uphold the rights of IDPs. We also hope that once passed, this legislation will serve as a model for other countries in the region facing similar issues of forced displacement,” added Kerblat.

Yolanda is the last in a series of crises that struck the country last year.

There was also the 7.2-magnitude earthquake in Bohol, Typhoons Santi and Odette and three episodes of heavy rains linked to Intertropical Convergence Zones, as well as the attack on Zamboanga City by rebels from the Moro National Liberation Front.

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