Philippines Typhoon Relief Efforts Face Persistent Challenges

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Ritchie B. Tongo / EPA

Filipino villagers force open a washed up container containing grocery items in the super typhoon devastated city of Tacloban, Leyte island province, Philippines, November 20, 2013.

Weeks after Typhoon Haiyan ravaged the Philippines, more than one million people have received food aid, the United Nations estimates. But logistical hurdles are still obstructing relief efforts across the island nation. 

Aid workers have struggled to reach rural areas far from airports,  according to Michael Delaney, Oxfam America’s director of humanitarian response. “The biggest challenge is the fact that there are still roads blocked by debris, and heavy machinery is required to clear those roads,” he said. “Oxfam started to support communities with cash-for-work programs and by providing chainsaws and other equipment to help clear those roads.”

Delivering aid to the injured has also been difficult, said USAID press officer Rebecca Gustafson. The U.S. relief agency is distributing water in 5-gallon containers that could be carried by children.

The powerful typhoon hit the Philippines on Nov. 8, displacing more than 4.4 million people and affecting 13.2 million, according to government figures.

As of Tuesday, officials said the storm had killed 4,011, injured 18,557 and 1,602 remain missing.