Typhoon victims to lose shelter because of Pope's Philippines' visit

(Photo: REUTERS / Erik De Castro)Typhoon survivors living in temporary shelters are seen near ships that ran aground, nearly 100 days after super Typhoon Haiyan devastated Tacloban city in central Philippines February 14, 2014. Typhoon Haiyan killed more than 6,200 people and left tens of thousands homeless when it struck in November 2013.

Survivors of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines are being asked to move from their bunkhouses in preparation for Pope Francis' visit in the country next year.

The bunkhouses located in Palo, Leyte province shelter 254 families who survived the typhoon.

Typhoon Haiyan hit the Visayas region last year, killing some 6,300 people with 1,060 still others missing.

In a report by local news Interaksyon, the residents say their representatives were called to a meeting September 15 by Palo Mayor Remedios Petilla.

They were told to move out to clear the area ahead of the Pope's visit on January.

The place is said to be the venue for the outdoor mass to be officiated by Pope Francis in the province.

A statue of the Boy Scout of the Philippines located at the center of the site will also be removed to give way to the construction of the stage.

Aileen Zabala, a resident, recounted that they were given until November or December to move out.

The local government's plan is for 80 families to move into new houses to be built by the Tzu Chi Foundation.

While waiting for permanent location, the rest will be transferred to another bunkhouse settlement which is roughly three kilometers inland from the town center.

"If the shelter from Tzu Chi is not yet ready, we will relocate them in Tacuranga in the meantime," Petilla told Sunstar News.

The survivors are not happy with the plan. Most are worried about their children who are studying within the area. They are also anxious about their source of income in the new place.

"Have pity on us, let them finish the school year. We are already experiencing difficulties and we are not sure if there is a school or a source of income near the Tzu Chi relocation site. We might end up in a worse condition," said Dana Fabi.

People Surge, an alliance of victims and organizations helping Haiyan survivors said that they are drafting a petition to stop the transfer of the 254 families. They are also planning to hold a dialogue with the mayor.

Delia Coritanam, who lost her husband and daughter to Yolanda, as the typhoon is referred to in the Philippines, believes that the Pope will not want them to leave.

She is hoping he will have compassion and help them.

Palo, Leyte Archbishop John Du in an earlier interview said that the Pope's main reason of visiting the country is to spend time with the poor.

The archbishop quoted the Pope as saying, "Give me time to be with the poor. If they [the rich] want, they could assist me [in serving the poor]."

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