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Philippines bishops say typhoon victims still need urgent aid

New appeal launched to raise at least US$12.4 million

Philippines bishops say typhoon victims still need urgent aid

Catholic residents celebrate Mass in a chapel damaged by Typhoon Haiyan in Leyte province (photo by Vincent Go) reporter, Manila

April 22, 2014

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The social action arm of the Philippines’ Catholic bishops conference issued an urgent appeal on Tuesday for donations to help victims of Typhoon Haiyan.

"Given the catastrophic scale and impact of the destruction...impacting nine provinces in the Philippines, the needed rehabilitation program is expected to be prolonged and massive in order to rebuild not only shelters but the lives and livelihood of the devastated communities," said Fr Edu Gariguez, executive secretary of the social action secretariat.

About US$12.4 million is still needed to rehabilitate the nine dioceses most affected by the disaster alone, according to Fr Gariguez.

He said the "emergency appeal" launched by the bishops and Caritas-Philippines was made after a "tedious planning process" with input from communities affected by the disaster.

Caritas Internationalis has also issued a call to Catholic communities around the world to assist the affected dioceses throughout the rehabilitation process, which is expected to take three years.

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, president of the bishops' conference, said that further donations were needed if affected communities were to have "a chance to recover”.

Caritas Internationalis raised $7.7 million for emergency relief operations to address the needs of some 250,000 individuals in the immediate aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, which struck on November 8 last year.

Last month, Caritas Manila, the social action arm of the Archdiocese of Manila, started building "multi-purpose" chapels in areas hit by the typhoon.

Fr Anton Pascual, Caritas Manila executive director, said the chapels would also serve as evacuation centers in times of crisis.

"What is important with these chapels is they are built in a way that it is reinforced to withstand Category 5 typhoons," he said.

Caritas Manila plans to build 20 to 30 chapels, but thus far only eight have been completed as the organization has made livelihood, education and housing its main priorities.

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