UN Chief Ban Ki-Moon calls for unity of int’l community in reconstruction

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon distributes school bags to pupils at the San Jose Elementary School in Barangay Manlurip, Tacloban city on Saturday afternoon. The UN chief arrived in Manila Friday night to talk to government leaders and personally visit some of the areas worst-hit by super typhoon Yolanda last November. (Credit: PNA photo by Roland Nablo)

TACLOBAN CITY — United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday called for unity of the international community in the bid to reconstruct the areas battered by super typhoon Yolanda.

Saddened by the magnitude of destruction wrought by the super typhoon, the highest UN official said the international community will not leave the Philippines behind in its recovery efforts.

“As a UN secretary general, I’m here to convey the strongest solidarity of the international community. This tragedy can be overcome when we are united,” said Ban addressing the media, officials and typhoon survivors near a mountain of debris and ship that ran aground at Fatima village here.

The UN executive said international agencies will mobilize US$800 million funding support to storm-hit areas in one year. As of December 19, about 32 percent of the fund have been used.

“We will try to provide life saving support and a long term development strategy, which will focus on reconstruction and resettlement of your community… Let us build safer and better communities,” the official said in his seven-minute press briefing.

Ban said that UN-affiliate humanitarian organizations from 25 countries extended their helping hands to typhoon-stricken areas in central Philippines.

“We deployed our senior and hardworking staff to work day and night with your people,” Ban added.

The UN official expressed sympathy to families of those who perished in the storm after personally seeing the extent of damages from San Jose district up to Fatima village.

“The destruction is beyond description. I was deeply saddened of what I have seen. I am deeply sorry of the loss of lives.”

Ban visited an evacuation center at the Manlurip Elementary School where he led the distribution of relief goods to school children. He also talked to some typhoon survivors in the coastal village of Fatima.

The UN Secretary General was accompanied by rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson, and heads of DOH Enrique Ona and DSWD Corazon Soliman.

The storm has killed 6,102 people and affected the livelihood of 14.1 million in central Philippines as the super typhoon damaged 1.1 million houses. (PNA)

Earlier, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived at the NAIA I Friday evening. Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Luiza Carvalho welcomed the UN secretary general who arrived at 10:20 p.m. The UN chief will be in the Philippines from Dec. 20 to 22.

Ban met President Benigno S. Aquino III at the Palace Saturday morning as well Cabinet secretaries Del Rosario, Jose Rene Almendras, Defense’s Voltaire Gazmin, Dinky Soliman and NEDA’s Arsenio Balisacan.

On Sunday morning, Ban will hold a joint press conference with Secretary Del Rosario at the Manila Peninsula Hotel in Makati City. (with additional PNA report by Sarwell Quijano Meniano)


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