Philippines: 1.9m displaced

About 2.5 million people are in need of food and water and around 1.9 million have been displaced.

Typhoon victims pray during mass at the Santo Nino church in Tacloban on 17 November. Picture: AFP.

MANILA - After three days in the Philippines, South African relief group Gift of the Givers is one step away from distributing aid and medical supplies to thousands of people affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan.

The non-governmental organisation (NGO) arrived in the country last week, but traveling between the different towns delayed the crew in the nation's capital Manila over the weekend.

The 20-person crew arrived in Cebu City early hours this morning where victims of the typhoon from Tacloban have sought refuge and classes are scheduled to resume at schools destroyed by the storm.

Gift of the Givers plans to set up camp in the town of Palompon where the eye of the typhoon passed over 10 days ago and some people have still not received any help.

Cebu City has become the nearest point of refuge for thousands of residents from Tacloban who have lost everything in the typhoon and subsequent storm surge.

But local authorities are limiting the number of people entering the city, with 2,000 more expected to arrive at the main port today.

Gift of the Givers says it will thus focus its mission on people who have not yet been reached by relief workers and don't have the means to flee to neighbouring islands.

Cebu City was also not spared by the typhoon, with schools in 10 of the surrounding towns badly damaged, but due to resume with classes today.

The NGO is due to depart from the city's main port later this afternoon and is due to begin its work in Palompon early tomorrow morning.

While international aid organisations and the United Nations (UN) scale-up relief operations in the Philippines following Super Typhoon Haiyan, the country has begun counting the costs of the disaster.

An estimated 2.5 million victims of the typhoon and storm surge that ravaged the central islands of the country are in need of food and water while a further 1.9 million people have been displaced.

Typhoon Haiyan hit the city of Legaspi, Albay province, south of Manila in Philippines on 8 November, 2013. Picture: AFP.

The UN says $300 million is needed to provide immediate relief, but the country's agricultural-based economy has also been stifled with thousands of crops and fertile land destroyed.

The country's National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council estimates more than R8 billion worth of agricultural crops have been destroyed by the storm.

There are currently at least 34 medical teams in different parts of the country, but its future doctors and nurses have also been dealt a setback as the typhoon wrecked an essential training college.

Residents walk through debris as they rush to a rescue helicopter delivering relief foods in Hernani town, Eastern Samar province, central Philippines on 11 November, four days after Typhoon Haiyan hit the country. Picture: AFP.

In Palo, the facilities at the School of Health Sciences have been damaged and geography graduate Ken Aracan says the majority of its doctors, nurses and midwives played a crucial role in treating people in rural areas.

All of the university's students at the two campuses have since been found in good health and are now assisting with relief operations.

Meanwhile, the Filipino military says it's now managed to contain much of the looting that took place in cities hardest hit by Haiyan.

A typhoon victim walks past land ravaged by Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, on the eastern island of Leyte. Picture: AFP.

Residents took to the streets due to frustration with the government's slow response to the disaster which was delayed even further by the destruction of transport infrastructure.

Commander of the relief rescue and recovery, Dr Butch Hong, says the safety of relief workers and their supplies have now been restored and they don't expect any further flare-ups of violence.

"The areas we will go to will be safe to move around freely. We will explain to the communities we are there to help and are not there to take advantage of them."