Typhoon aid: Singapore raised more than $12m

SINGAPORE - Individuals and organisations in Singapore opened up their hearts and wallets and have helped raise more than $12 million in aid of rebuilding efforts in the Philippines.

More than $10 million was collected by the Singapore Red Cross (SRC) alone.

On Saturday, the Philippines Department of Tourism (DOT) began a three-day campaign to to thank the global community for its help after Super Typhoon Haiyan hit part of the Philippines last November.

Thank-you messages were displayed on electronic billboards across nine cities around the world, including Singapore, Tokyo, New York and London.

The typhoon - one of the most powerful storms in history to make landfall, ravaged nine regions in the Philippines when it struck on Nov 8 last year.

It caused more than 6,000 deaths and affected some 14.1 million people.

"This Feb 8... exactly three months after the typhoon, we want to be one in expressing our gratitude," said the DOT on its Twitter account.

It has also encouraged Filipinos to say thank you on social media by downloading thank you notes and using the hashtag "#PHthankyou".

Mr Charles Leong, the DOT's marketing director for Singapore and Indonesia, told The Sunday Times that the campaign is also part of a drive to tell the world that the "country is recovering and that it's okay to visit".

Parts of the Philippines affected by Haiyan are shifting into an "early recovery phase", and rebuilding effort is expected to take at least four years and require more than US$8 billion (S$10 billion) in funding.

The SRC has committed $2.5 million towards the first phase of its rebuilding and rehabilitation projects.

It will be erecting health stations and helping to rebuild schools and day care centres in areas such as Iloilo, Busuanga Island and Leyte Island.

In Bantayan Island, Cebu, about 200,000 people will benefit from six community water filtration systems, the distribution of jerry cans and shelter materials like zinc sheets and umbrella nails.

These projects, said SRC secretary-general Benjamin William, will have "direct and long-term impacts" on the affected communities.

He added that the "overwhelming response from the people of Singapore" has made a difference in the lives of victims.

Donations are still streaming in for aid organisation Mercy Relief from public donation drives by companies such as Wing Tai Retail via donation boxes located at its retail outlets and counters. It has so far pulled in cash donations and pledges totalling about $1.16 million.

Faith-based organisations such as Caritas Humanitarian Aid and Relief Initiatives Singapore (Charis), the Catholic Church's social arm for overseas humanitarian aid, has raised $1 million to date. Other big givers include the Methodist Church in Singapore, which contributed $320,000 to World Vision Singapore.

World Vision Singapore's spokesman said the organisation, which has raised more than $762,000 to date, has plans to restore and improve sanitation facilities and food access, among other things.

The spokesman for the United Nations disaster agency in the Philippines, Mr Russell Geekie, told Agence France- Presse that the "early recovery phase" will focus on restoring livelihoods for millions of victims, adding that the need for shelter still remains "enormous".

There are also psycho-social needs that need to be met, he said. These include finding the hundreds missing, to give their families closure.


Additional information from AFP

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