Christian Aid partner organisations in the Philippines are responding to the devastation caused by Typhoon Washi, that battered the south of the country over the weekend.
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Christian Aid's Emergency Officer, Adrian Ouvry, explains how our partners are responding to help those in urgent need.
Typhoon Washi swept across the Mindanao region, with strong winds and heavy rains causing massive flooding, flash floods and landslides.
The country awoke to the tragic site of washed-out houses, piled up vehicles and scores of bodies floating in rivers.
In recent days, Christian Aid partner MUCAARD joined the UN and other agencies in assessing the devastation caused by the typhoon.
Latest reports indicate that in Cagayan de Oro a total of 579 people have been confirmed dead, while 279 deaths have been registered in the city of Illigan. As families come to terms with the loss of their loved ones, both cities have struggled to cope with hundreds of decomposing bodies.
In Cagayan de Oro, the strain on water supplies and sanitation facilities is increasing and there is now a growing threat of disease. In Iligan, one of out three water sources has been damaged and water rationing is in place. The lack of safe, clean drinking water is a major problem.
With 51,000 people taking refuge in evacuation centres across the region, severe overcrowding is now a major concern. Those unable to find shelter in evacuation centres have resorted to camping near roadsides.
In an effort to ease congestion, the Government is now focused on building temporary shelters on the open ground that surrounds the make shift evacuation centres, such as schools and gyms. With children returning to school in January - following their Christmas break - it is hoped these buildings will be restored and ready for the new school term.
Christian Aid partner MUCAARD is responding with emergency food and shelter, safe water and clearing up operations, while partner Unlad Kabayan is providing cash direct to families to help them meet their most immediate needs.
The typhoon hit while people were asleep. This coupled with that fact that the Mindanao region is not an area normally affected by typhoons, meant communities were not as adequately prepared for the scale of this disaster.
Part of Christian Aid’s long term work will include preparing these communities for future hazards.
Ramani Leathard, Christian Aid's South Asia Regional Manager, commented: 'Sadly we know that in times of disaster, the poorest families are generally the worst affected. They tend to live in the riskiest areas and their modest homes are the least able to withstand powerful winds and surging floodwaters.'
In addition to responding to needs in the worst hit cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, Christian Aid partners are widening their response to focus on the rural areas that are less well served by other agencies.
Christian Aid has already set aside £50,000 towards the immediate costs of responding to the disaster and has launched a Philippines Typhoon Appeal. Any donations would help our partners, MUCAARD and Unlad Kabayan, to meet the immediate needs for items such as food, medicines, blankets and clothes.
Pray for those affected by floods
Compassionate God, source of all comfort,
We pray for the people whose lives have devastated by rain and flood.
Bring them comfort, we pray.
Protect the vulnerable.
Strengthen the weak.
Keep at bay the spread of disease.
Have mercy on all those working to rescue the stranded and to feed the hungry.
And may our response to their suffering be generous and bring you praise.
For we ask it in Jesus' Name, Amen.