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UN chief visits Philippines relief effort

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UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visited the Philippines this weekend to see relief efforts in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan. There are nearly 3 million people who need life-saving food after the devastating storm hit last month.

The Secretary General declared, "My message to the Filipino people is: never despair. The United Nations is behind you. The world is behind you. We will mobilize all resources and will to help you."

The storm's powerful winds and flooding severely damaged the agriculture and fishing industries. Food shortages and loss of livelihoods is the tragic result for communities. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) says, "Most agricultural households will take between to 6 to 8 months to recover." There is a huge rush to get seeds to farmers so they can plant for the next crop harvest season.

The Secretary General reported yesterday that "Rice seeds have been distributed to more than 10,000 farming households so far. Our aim is to ensure that at least 72,000 hectares can be planted, so the vital upcoming 2014 harvest is not lost."

The Secretary General visited a UNICEF assisted school as well as other recovery projects. The UN children's agency reports that "Screening activities detected 919 cases of acute malnutrition (119 severe; 800 moderate)."

UNICEF and WFP are providing foods like Plumpy'Nut and Plumpy'Doz to treat or prevent child malnutrition. WFP is distributing high-energy biscuits and rice to families throughout the storm areas.

WFP and UNICEF are voluntarily funded and require contributions to carry on with relief work through May.

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