Since the typhoon struck on Friday, aid agencies have scrambled to bring bottled water, food, cooking utensils and tents to those in need – fanning out across the islands to provide assistance. The Red Cross, Oxfam and Save the Children are among the 14 agencies working under the banner of the DEC.
The Philippine Red Cross was initially coordinating efforts on behalf of their organisation, which has sent a logistics team of four people from the UK to Manila. From there the team planned to fly onto Cebu, then travel onwards by boat to reach the worst-affected areas. Back in the UK, the Red Cross is currently sourcing a plane to fly out four-by-four vehicles and computers from their warehouse in Bristol.
Oxfam has workers in the region and is sending out 20 further people, who will be distributing water, sanitation equipment and plastic shelters. Staff travelled to the northern regions of the Philippines on Sunday and reported widespread devastation, with emergency shelters being destroyed.
CAFOD, the Catholic relief charity, has also begun distributing aid – the Philippines is a staunchly Roman Catholic country – and is campaigning through churches and Catholic schools.
Nick Harrop, spokesman for the organisation, said that they would be sending out food and cooking utensils in the short term, but with longer-term provisions of shelter and transportation equipment.
“We are launching our emergency appeal in response to the hundreds of schools, parishes and individuals up and down the country who have contacted us to ask: ‘What can we do?’, showing the generosity and compassion that is always the hallmark of the Catholic community in times of crisis,” said Chris Bain, director of the charity.
“The best way we can all help is by supporting the charities and church groups who are already operating in the worst hit areas, responding to their immediate needs for food, water and shelter, beginning the hard work of rebuilding the communities that have lost everything, and keeping them constantly in our prayers. Together, we can bring new hope to those who today face utter desolation.”
UNICEF, the United Nations children’s’ fund, was sending out 66 tons of emergency supplies from its centre in Copenhagen, Denmark.
“We are rushing to get critical supplies to children who are bearing the brunt of this crisis,” said Tomoo Hozumi, UNICEF Philippines Representative.
“Reaching the worst affected areas is very difficult, with limited access due to the damage caused by the typhoon to infrastructure and communications. But we are working around the clock to find ways to get these supplies to children as quickly as conditions allow.”
David Beckham, a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, pledged his support for their appeal.
“My heart goes out to everyone affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines,” he said.
“I was in Manila with UNICEF just two years ago and saw how vulnerable to natural disasters the country is. Thousands of homes have been destroyed, roads are impassable and children and their families need food, water, shelter and power right now.”
UNICEF estimates that four million children could be caught up in the typhoon, and is sending nutritionally-rich food for children, health kits, water and hygiene kits to support up to 3,000 families in the affected areas. The World Food Programme – the UN’s organisation to address hunger – was sending 40 tons of high-energy biscuits to give to those without food.
The EU has donated €3 million, while the British government has promised a further £6 million.
Around 90 members of the United States marines arrived in the Philippines on Sunday evening to provide support to the aid agencies.
To make a donation to the DEC Philippines Crisis Appeal visit http://www.dec.org.uk, call the 24 hour hotline on 0370 60 60 900, donate over the counter at any high street bank or post office or send a cheque. You can also donate £5 by texting the word SUPPORT to 70000.