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Peru Quake Assistance Starting to Focus on Reconstruction


United Nations aid agencies say the situation in Peru's earthquake affected areas is moving rapidly from one of emergency to rehabilitation and reconstruction. But the agencies say there is still a great need of aid, especially in some of the remote areas. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from Geneva.

The United Nations has released $9.5 million from its emergency fund to help Peru's earthquake survivors. A total of 27 staff members from 10 international aid agencies are coordinating their relief operations with the Peruvian National Institute of Civil Defense.

Officials say at least 513 people were killed in last week's earthquake, with more than 1,000 injured.

A U.N. spokeswoman, Elizabeth Byrs, says the situation in Lima and Pisco is getting under control and attention now is turning toward rehabilitation and reconstruction. Nevertheless, she says urgent needs remain to be addressed.

"We are focusing and the government is focusing on shelter and also on these rural communities which are difficult to be accessed," she said. "It is in the district of Guadaloupe, where you have these remote area, more isolated area which has not received yet the assistance they could expect from the authorities and the U.N. Now, the priority is to give assistance to these people."

Preliminary assessments show over 37,000 houses were destroyed in the quake, as well as 14 hospitals and hundreds of schools.

The World Food Program reports it has received $500,000 in food assistance from the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid department. It says this will help feed $80,000 of the most vulnerable victims during the next nine months.

WFP spokeswoman Christiane Berthiaume says some people whose homes were destroyed are unwilling to go to distribution centers because they fear their possessions will be looted if they leave them. But she says more and more people are coming to the centers to get registered.

"Those distributions have to be done in an orderly manner," she said. "People need to be registered. But, it is going better. In the rural areas we are doing an assessment mission right now, trying to reach those people and it is after those evaluations that we will have a better idea of the needs and what needs to be done."

The Geneva-based International Organization for Migration is taking the lead in establishing and managing temporary camps for people made homeless by the earthquake. It is assisting those who sought refuge in three camps located in the most affected provinces of Chincha, Pisco and Ica, south of the capital, Lima.

The agency says it is prepared to help as many as 60,000 people in the camps during the next six months.

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