CAFOD has given an initial £250,000 to provide vital humanitarian aid to survivors of Typhoon Haiyan. The funds will go to CAFOD’s local Caritas church partners to meet the immediate needs for food, clean water, shelter, medical supplies and sanitation.
Local priests have hailed the impact of the Church’s work. “Many of my parishioners can only cope with one day at a time,” says Father Alex Opiniano, from the parish of Santino in Tacloban . “They can’t afford to think about tomorrow or the next day, just the day that they are living in. We are still struggling with communications, we still need more vehicles to reach more areas, and the electricity is erratic.
“But the Church is a beacon amongst the broken ruins of our homes. People see priests and the Caritas volunteers distributing food and water. We learn every day from visitors about the generosity, prayers and concern coming from the rest of the world, especially from Catholics across the UK. You are all far away yet you are close to us, giving us courage, inspiration and hope.”
Already 6,500 shelter kits – tents and tarpaulins – have arrived in Cebu port to be transported to Leyte Island in the east of the country. This is the first batch of Caritas shelter kits, with over 30,000 more are due to arrive over the coming days.
In Tacloban, which also sits in the Eastern Visayas region, CAFOD’s local Caritas partners have identified seven evacuation centres from which to manage their clean water and sanitation programmes to prevent and combat disease.
According to the United Nations, the death toll stands at some 3,600 people. Over 13 million have been affected by the crisis, and at least 1.9 million people are still in evacuation centres across the country.
“One week after Typhoon Haiyan, the enormous scale of the disaster is becoming clearer,” said Matthew Carter, Head of CAFOD’s Humanitarian Department. “The challenges are still great on the ground, but the logistical efforts to get roads and airports open are allowing more aid to get through, and our Church partners are reaching many of the areas that others cannot.
“The Catholic community in England and Wales has responded with tremendous generosity and compassion to the crisis, and this initial outlay of £250,000 will allow CAFOD’s local church and Caritas partners to scale up their frontline support and reach more people in the worst affected areas”.