Irish charities renew appeal as new storms threaten Philippines
Rescue workers say survivors desperate for food, water and medicine
Seeking a way out of the city, residents of Tacloban, Philippines, some injured, gather at the wreckage of the local airport. Photograph: Jes Aznar/The New York Times
Irish charities have renewed appeals for relief aid as new storms threaten to hamper rescue efforts in the Philippines.
Plan Ireland chief executive David Dalton said the charity had already dispatched supplies of tents, plastic sheeting and tarpaulins. But he warned that latest weather forecasts indicated that a tropical depression could bring fresh floods to typhoon-affected areas.
“Food, water and shelter are in high demand, so we are urging people to donate what they can,” he said.
The charity is also helping to distribute some of the €1 million in Government aid announced at the weekend.
The first supplies – which include hundreds of tarpaulins, thousands of blankets and other basic food and hygiene necessities – arrived in the country yesterday.
Latest reports suggest that more than 10,000 people may have died and four million have been affected by the typhoon.
Oxfam Ireland said yesterday that aid workers on the ground in the Philippines were witnessing families being forced to break into shops and pharmacies to get food and medicine.
Golda Hilario, a member of Oxfam’s rapid assessment team on the ground in Tacloban, said: “The scene is one of utter devastation; 100 per cent of this city is devastated. Families are taking desperate measures, like looting shops and pharmacies for food and antibiotics.
“Without clean water, people are bursting pipes to try and access a water supply.”
Other Irish charities are mobilising emergency response teams or already have volunteers on the ground. They include Christian Aid Ireland, Concern, Goal, the Irish Red Cross, Oxfam Ireland, Unicef and World Vision.
Goal chief executive Barry Andrews said it had decided to send its emergency response team to the devastated region around Tacloban with a view to assessing how best to work with local authorities and partners in the area.
“We have almost 20 years’ experience in the Philippines, providing health services, shelter and water and sanitation and other aid through a network of partners, and we will use this knowledge and expertise to examine which needs need to be prioritised,” he said.
Dóchas, an umbrella organisation of more than 50 Irish aid agencies, has encouraged members of the public who wish to donate funds to visit the website howyoucanhelp.ie to find out how their donations can have the highest impact.
“This website sets out the principles of good emergency relief, and the many ways in which members of the public can assist the Irish aid agencies to do their work,” said Dóchas director Hans Zomer.
The Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, has also asked that a special collection due to be taken up at all Masses in the capital this weekend be used to help with the relief effort in the Philippines and Syria. “Urgent requests are coming from the church in the Philippines for prayers and for help to provide immediate relief,” he said.