‘Yolanda’ survivors start returning home

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A month after Super Typhoon Yolanda swept through the Visayas region, tens of thousands of displaced people have started returning to their towns, an international relief agency said.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that the survivors have come back to their towns mostly to rebuild their homes, which were destroyed during the height of the typhoon.

The agency noted, however, that there is a movement of people, including parents and teenagers, leaving for big cities like Cebu and Manila to find work.

The UNHCR also said that it is important that “dignified relocation” be provided to displaced people who are unable to return to their homes as a result of the devastation or new building codes.


“Efforts are also needed to help their access to housing and livelihoods as well as documentation and legal assistance,” the UNHCR added.

The agency’s teams for their part are distributing family-sized tents as temporary shelter to the affected residents in Tacloban.

“More tents have gone south to Tanauan for government sites targeting people moving out of evacuation centers and coastal villages,” it added.

According to government estimates, some 96,000 people currently remain in 430 evacuation centers in the region. The vast majority of displaced people are living outside the centers, often close to their destroyed homes.

Relief items such as emergency shelter and basic household items have been given to some 129,000 people, according to the UNHCR.

They also started distributing hundreds of solar lamps to improve lighting and reduce security risks for families in Tacloban, Guiuan, Mercedes and Bantayan in northern Cebu.

“With electricity still down across the affected areas, the safety of women and children is of great concern,” it added.

It likewise expressed hopes that more than 10,000 families can be moved out of overcrowded evacuation centers and unsafe coastal areas by the end of the year.

The UNHCR in its partnership with the government focuses on communities that have not received assistance, including indigenous groups and people in remote locations.

The agency earlier increased its emergency appeal to $19.2 million to boost life-saving aid and enhance its response to protection issues. To date, the agency has received 43 percent of this amount.

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