Caritas teams continue to fan out over the southern Philippine island of Mindanao to help families suffering because of massive flash flooding. Close to 1000 people are confirmed dead, and whole sections of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City were washed away. Tens of thousands of people are living in evacuation centres like university gyms.
Caritas Philippines, known within the country as NASSA, sent a team to the Diocese of Iligan. Catholic Relief Services (CRS), a Caritas member from the USA, has a team on the ground in Cagayan de Oro. A team from CAFOD (Caritas UK) was one of the first to reach certain washed-away coastal areas (see photos).
In Cagayan de Oro, one of worst-affected areas, families are without access to clean water. Assessment teams report cramped quarters and poor sleeping conditions in the evacuation centres. Families also lack containers like buckets to store clean water. Some people are using unprotected open wells.
CRS Philippines is procuring water containers and hygiene kits in other parts of the country for distribution to flood victims. Staff and partners plan to distribute the kits before Christmas Eve.
In Iligan, some families are taking refuge at the gym of the Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology campus. There are concerns that relief supplies for the evacuees are running low.
The Diocese of Dumaguete in Negros Oriental, a region in a different part of the Philippines, appealed to Caritas for help. NASSA is sending a team there to assess damages and to coordinate the emergency response.
In Cagayan de Oro, CRS is working with the archdiocese and with the Jesuit-run Xavier University, which is serving as a temporary relief centre and is delivering relief goods.
Additional teams are arriving. “We continue to pray for the victims of this tragic calamity,” says Fr. Edwin A. Gariguez, Executive Secretary of NASSA. “And we hope that we can share more the spirit of solidarity and hope with our brothers and sisters in need.”
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