Red Cross launches emergency appeal for victimsBy Philip C. Tubeza
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Noting that the situation was “truly desperate,” the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) on Saturday launched an “emergency appeal” for P726 million to help more than 330,000 homeless Filipinos affected by Typhoon “Pablo.”
“More than 1,000 people were killed by the storm and providing long-term shelter to survivors remains one of most critical needs,” the IFRC said in a statement.
“The homes of over 330,000 people have been totally destroyed, leaving families housed for the foreseeable future in temporary evacuation centers or with friends and relatives,” it added.
The disaster affected 34 provinces, mainly in Mindanao, and reaching many affected communities in more remote areas has proved challenging, the Geneva-based federation said.
“The situation is truly desperate. So many people who had very little before the typhoon struck have been left with virtually nothing,” said Gwendolyn Pang, secretary general of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC).
“The next few weeks will be critical. We have to meet people’s basic daily needs, such as food and water, but they also need help to rebuild their homes and livelihoods. We hope the international community can offer some timely assistance as we approach Christmas,” she added.
Shelter a priority
Since the disaster struck, PRC teams have been supporting search and rescue efforts, providing emergency first aid and delivering food, clean water and other relief items to typhoon victims. Now, relief activities are intensifying as access to affected areas improves.
“We are acting on the needs that exist today but also the longer term problems that lie ahead,” said Selva Sinnadurai, head of the IFRC’s office in the Philippines.
“Some people will receive emergency shelter kits to repair their homes, but we also aim to build transitional shelters for 4,000 families and provide them with cash grants to help them get back on their feet,” Sinnadurai said.
The IFRC appeal will complement relief and emergency health activities being undertaken by the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross, which is also working with the PRC in Mindanao.
Governments continued to provide emergency aid for the Philippine relief effort.
Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Ma Keqing on Friday handed more than a $200,000 (P8-million) donation to the Department of Foreign Affairs, adding to China’s earlier $30,000 (P1.2 million) aid sent by the Red Cross Society of China to the PRC.
A Malaysian nongovernment organization is sending a 56-member team to eastern Mindanao to assist relief operations there, the Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur reported on Saturday.
The Kelab Putera 1 Malaysia will be in the Philippines over the holidays on the instruction of Malaysian Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd Najb bin Tun Razak for a five-day mission in Mindanao.
The United States has pledged nearly P300 million to the Philippines for emergency assistance in hard-hit Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental and Negros Oriental.
The amount is on top of rice supply and transport assistance being provided by the US Agency for International Development and the US military to Philippine authorities, the embassy said.
The international community’s cash and in-kind aid to the Philippines in the wake of Pablo has exceeded P670 million, with countries responding to the United Nations’ appeal to pool together P2.6 billion ($65 million) to help the Philippines respond to the calamity. With a report from Tarra Quismundo