Filipino victims of Typhoon Yolanda (2013 file photo by Reuters)
Filipino victims of Typhoon Yolanda (2013 file photo by Reuters)

Tens of thousands of Filipinos displaced by typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in 2013 are clamoring to be re-classified as “refugees” so that they can find permanent homes and better living conditions in Europe and other countries that have opened their borders to Syrian refugees.

Yolanda slammed Eastern Visayas on Nov. 8, 2013, leaving more than 6,000 people dead.

Back in January this year, Vice President Jejomar Binay said that a total of 205,128 houses were needed for Yolanda victims in 116 cities and municipalities.  As of the end of 2014, a total of only 2,100 housing units have been completed.

Binay  was chair of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council and head of the Yolanda Resettlement Cluster before his resignation from President NoyNoy Aquino’s cabinet in June this year.

The Aquino government had said that it is targeting to finish  the construction of  an additional 120,000 housing units by the end of this year.

That still leaves tens of thousands more who would need  roofs over their heads.

Feeling almost hopeless about their dire situation, the displaced typhoon victims have petitioned the United Nations to re-classify their status to “refugees,” saying that with the ineptitude of the Aquino government, their only hope is to find refuge elsewhere.

The governments of China, Australia, Canada and some countries within the European Union (EU) have reportedly expressed willingness to accept the Filipino “refugees.”

Ironically, the Department of Foreign Affairs yesterday announced that the Philippines is ready to take in Syrian refugees in response to the humanitarian crisis in Europe.

Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said the Philippines could be a temporary destination as refugees await acceptance from a host country for resettlement.

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