Thu, Nov 14, 2013 - Page 6 News List

Typhoon Haiyan survivors beg for help

ON THE GROUND:Families from flattened villages lined the road in northern Cebu, hoping that people passing in cars and trucks can give them food, water or cash

The Guardian, BOGO, Philippines

Not far from the church sits Bogo’s squat sports complex, a covered basketball court that doubled as the city’s evacuation center until its roof was blown off and water started pouring in everywhere. Now it serves as the main warehouse and distribution center for relief goods that arrive in on trucks from Cebu, 96.5km away.

The complex is also home to more than 520 people, almost all of whom are sleeping on the cold concrete floor with only a cardboard box as a bed.

Bogo Mayor Celestino Martinez Jr is sitting at a table underneath one of the tents in the basketball floor overseeing operations, where he complains that, without exact figures for how many families are in need, the aid his city really requires is still unknown.

“The aid only started coming in yesterday [Monday], because for two days we were unreachable,” he says, referring to impassable roads and downed telecommunications.

“As of right now, we don’t know how many homeless [there are], how many victims. The problem is if you give one [sack of rice to survivors], they want two. If you give two, they want three. So you tell them: ‘No, just come back tomorrow.’ The aid is coming in from the government, from NGOs, from private donors. It all has to be coordinated and divided at local level and then sent out.”

However, when questioned as to why hundreds of bags of rice were still in the warehouse and had not yet been delivered to hungry residents, he could only describe a “first wave” of aid and a “second wave” of aid.

“This is the second wave,” he said.

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