Caritas alarmed by ‘forced eviction’ of Yolanda victims

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MANILA, June 10, 2015— Caritas Philippines expressed concern over the “forced eviction” of Yolanda-affected families who are still living in the danger zones of Tacloban City.

Fr. Edwin Gariguez, Caritas Philippines executive secretary, said the eviction of about 3,000 families is set to be carried out on July 1.

He said the families will be relocated in temporary shelters for at least two years, while waiting for the completion of the permanent houses by the National Housing Authority and non-government organizations.

“While the city government is denying that it is not forced eviction and is just a transfer option, this doesn’t seem the case. Why, in the first place, would they set a deadline for the people to vacate the area if it’s an option?” Gariguez said.

Grim situation

The church’s social action arm said most of these families are living in communities along Old Road Sagkahan.

Tacloban officials reportedly planned to transfer the affected families early last month, but it was deferred due to the people’s appeal to let them celebrate first the June 30 Tacloban feast.

According to Caritas, there are 14,000 families living in the so-called danger zones of the city.

Gariguez said the affected families are opposing the plan to transfer them to temporary shelters in the northern villages of the city because of the “grim” situation there.

“There is no provision of electricity and water in the said relocation areas. This is aside from the fact that it is far from their sources of livelihood,” he said.

“We are therefore appealing to the city government of Tacloban to heed to our people’s call not to push through with the forced eviction or so-called transfer option until permanent shelters are available,” he added.

‘Pope Francis Village’

Caritas Philippines, meanwhile, announced that a church’s permanent housing project is expected to be completed by next year.

Located in the city’s Barangay Diit, the Pope Francis Village will accommodate at least 550 displaced families.

“This model project only shows that in-city housing is possible. We can provide permanent housing to the people of Tacloban without taking them away from their livelihood,” Gariguez said.

The project is led by the Urban Poor Associates, Canadian Catholic for Development and Peace, Caritas Philippines, the Archdiocese of Palo, and the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer.

Caritas in partnership with the Archdiocese of Palo has also been providing shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, livelihood, and ecosystem recovery interventions in Leyte province for two years now. (CBCPNews)

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