TACLOBAN, Philippines (AP):United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon yesterday visited central Philippine villages that were decimated by Typhoon Haiyan, and promised to try to raise at least US$800 million in aid to help the region recover from last month's devastating storm.
Children who survived the November 8 typhoon welcomed Ban by singing Jingle Bells at a school in worst-hit Tacloban city.
Accompanied by UN and Philippine officials, Ban clapped his hands and swayed playfully, telling the children: "Please hold on. Don't despair. We have come to help you."
Although he stayed for only about two hours, Ban was the most prominent world leader to visit the vast wasteland of debris and wrecked villages left by Haiyan, one of the strongest storms to slam into land on record.
The typhoon killed at least 6,100 people, with more than 1,700 others listed as missing. It damaged or swept away more than a million homes and injured 27,000 people.
"I'm standing here with a very heavy and sad heart," Ban told reporters as he stood beside huge mounds of muddy debris and toppled posts in Tacloban's Fatima village. He said the destruction he saw was "beyond description".
According to Ban, the UN is trying to raise at least US$800 million over the next 12 months and provide life-saving support such as food, water, shelter and sanitation. It will also help craft a long-term development strategy.
About US$237 million, or 30 per cent, of the fund has already been raised, according to a UN statement.