Deaths in Philippines continue in typhoon wake

Through the ACT Alliance, Week of Compassion is already on the ground in the Philippines. Your gifts have enabled us to support this immediate relief effort.  More support is needed.  Here is the latest report from ACT members working in the disaster zone.

Food supplies from aid agencies, foreign governments and Filipino authorities are reaching hard-hit regions of the country, yet the situation for many people remains dire and deaths continue.  A week after the super typhoon, reports of recent fatalities arrive at the ACT Alliance coordination office in Manila, some from friends and family of ACT member staff. Other staff wait for word from missing family in areas with poor mobile phone reception. 

Friends of Andy Tiver, who works for a local ACT member, were at home on an island in the Visayas group when Haiyan struck. Although Biliran island was relatively sheltered from the full force of the storm, Haiyan nonetheless ripped off the roof of the home where Tiver's friends, a young mother and her baby son, Johnpaul (CORR) lived. They took shelter with relatives.

"They were fine for the first day or so but then they ran out of food for the two month old," Tiver says. "They were feeding the baby rice milk but after a few days he started getting diarrhea and became dehydrated. When they ran out of rice milk, they turned to coconut milk to feed the baby. "They wanted to take the baby to hospital but the news was that it wasn't open. Even if it had been, there wasn't the gas to get them there."

Food aid arrived on the morning of November 13, but by then the child was chronically ill. He died a day later. The story is repeated across the central Philippines, Tiver said.

In north Samar, another relative of the family had evacuated the area as no food was available. Any food that was in shops was prohibitively expensive, Tiver said.

Most relief packages contain provisions for a week. "But if the families have lost everything and they've got no livelihood, the food aid will need to go on for a long time. What comes next? How do you re-establish people's livelihood? How do you fish anywhere when you've lost your boats and fishing tackle, especially in the worst affected places?"

He particularly fears for the elderly and infants stuck without relief in the disaster areas.

The number of people reported dead is 4460, according to the United Nations' emergency unit, UNOCHA. The total number affected by the disaster is today up nearly 400,000 to 11.8 million across nine regions. An estimated 2.5 million people urgently need food aid. Nearly a million have been forced from their homes and a quarter of a million houses destroyed.

ACT is hard at work, with 10 members delivering emergency food, shelter, water and sanitation facilities in the central Visayas region. Post-disaster work will include rebuilding livelihoods, agriculture programs and disaster prevention. An ACT appeal for $14.1m launched this week will support 235,900 people over five Visayas islands - Samar, Leyte, Bohol, Cebu and Iloilo.

Sudhanshu Singh, ACT Haiyan response coordinator, says the response focuses on the core competencies of ACT members. The newly set up ACT coordination center in Manila will ensure members get the latest information and make best use of their resources and relief programs. ACT members will be present in most UN clusters, which are aid organization groups differentiated by relief sectors.

Survivors urgently need household basics, such as food, bedding, water, blankets, tarpaulins, tents, medicines, mosquito nets, generators, hygiene kits and kitchen utensils, plastic sheets and tents. One of the most urgent needs is safe drinking water and hygiene kits across all affected areas. 

Thank you for putting your compassion into action and enabling Week of Compassion to be present, in the name of Christ, for those who desperately need our care.  For more information, or to donate to this effort, please visit www.weekofcompassion.org.


 
 

This week's responses:

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance
Philippines, Typhoon Relief
Development and Long-Term Recovery and Rehabilitation
Haiti, Revitalization of Haitian Agriculture