The typhoon “Haiyan”, known as “Yolanda” in the Philippines, may have been the strongest typhoon ever recorded – on 8 November it hit the south eastern regions of the Philippines and left a trail of devastation in its wake. Local infrastructure has been largely destroyed in the areas hit by the catastrophe, the people there have nothing. Through Federal Foreign Office emergency aid measures, which are being implemented in conjunction with the Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) and the German Red Cross (DRK) amongst others, victims are receiving safe water, medical care and food.
Immediately after the typhoon hit, the Federal Government made the initial resources for humanitarian emergency aid available. German and international aid organisations now have a total of 6.5 million euros at their disposal for their work. In the affected areas any form of help is needed, according to current United Nations estimates over 13 million people have been affected by the devastation, of which over five million are children. The victims have nothing – neither drinking water, food, medical care or a roof over their head to protect them from further storms.
The THW purifies drinking water
German aid organisations are in the country to provide urgently needed aid supplies – on 14 November the first flight bringing aid from the Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) and German Red Cross (DRK) landed in the affected region of Cebu. Its cargo: 70 tonnes of aid supplies including tents, cooking equipment, hygiene items and plastic sheeting to build temporary accommodation for people. Moreover, two water purification systems for clean water and a laboratory for analysing water have been delivered. As of yesterday (20 November), the THW has been able to use these to purify water on the heavily devastated island of Bantayan and thus provide safe water to the town of Santa Fé.
The DRK is currently building a Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement base camp on the island of Samar with financial support from the Federal Foreign Office. In addition to this German aid organisations are building emergency shelter and are helping with the reconstruction of water, sanitation and food provision for the affected population.
Food parcels and health clinics
Food is also being distributed in Ormoc on the island of Leyte – here each family receives a plastic bag with rice, dried fish, sugar, coffee and soap. The food parcels are being distributed to hard hit families with help from non governmental organisations. For many people, this is the only assistance that they have received since the typhoon hit. In the meantime, workers from the Order of St. John Accident Assistance have constructed a provisional medical station and are providing urgently needed medical care.
The scale of the catastrophe is vast, clean up activities and the reconstruction of utterly destroyed infrastructure will take a long time. Through emergency aid measures in the country however, German aid organisations can contribute to temporarily alleviating the worst of peoples’ suffering and coordinating further assistance. Germany has moreover pledged long term assistance to the Philippines for the reconstruction of devastated areas.