“It looks like a tsunami hit. It’s just complete and total destruction. Whole hillsides were washed away in flash floods,” said Joe Curry, CRS country representative in the Philippines. “I’ve talked to colleagues who’ve worked in disaster response for ten years, and they say the devastation in the Compostela Valley is among the worst they’ve ever seen in the Philippines,” said Curry. The official death toll now stands at more than 647, with at least 550 people missing. Tens of thousands of people have lost their homes since the typhoon made landfall last Tuesday. “As the roads are now being accessible and the electricity is back in many areas , the communication and access is bringing a clearer picture of the extend of the destruction,” says Cynthia Perez from Caritas Philippines (locally known as NASSA).
Typhoon Bopha (local name “Pablo”) slammed into the Philippines Tuesday forcing the evacuation of 160,000 people and leaving hundreds dead. The category 5 super typhoon hit south eastern Mindanao with 160 mph winds, causing flooding and damage to homes, businesses and farms. Caritas Philippines (NASSA) and Catholic Relief Services (CRS is a US-based Caritas member) have sent joint teams into the affected areas. Fr. Edwin Gariguez, Director of Caritas Philippines, is with one of the teams in Suriago del Sur where he says damage has been substantial. “Most of the coastal area has been affected,” he said. “In the town of Nigig, only three out of 50 family homes are still standing.” Caritas says the areas of Compostela and Davao Oriental have the highest needs, such as sleeping mats, blankets, water/hygiene supplies, and tarpaulins for emergency shelter. “Caritas here have been able to channel assistance through the churches. Many people took refuge in churches, [...]
Caritas is appealing for funds to help families in the Philippines, many of whom are living in temporary evacuation centres following massive floods. Heavy rains in early August left over 100 people dead and hundreds of thousands of families without shelter and food. Conditions are still very difficult with food scarce and many people unable to return home. Caritas will care for over 6000 families in five dioceses, providing food, hygiene items and cooking utensils. The cost of the two-month programme will be 352,050 euro. Priority will be given to vulnerable people such as pregnant women, the elderly, the disabled and child-headed households who have either lost their homes completely or whose homes have been severely damaged by water. Caritas’ work in the flood areas aims to prevent illness and further deaths caused by such difficult living conditions. When the floods first struck Caritas mobilised its network of diocesan centres and church volunteers [...]
The UN International Labour Organization (ILO) has announced that a second country, the Philippines, has just ratified Convention 189/2011 for Decent Work for Domestic Workers. Uruguay was the first country to ratify this Convention last June. This is the second breakthrough after adoption by ILO members in June 2010. Caritas says it is now very important to keep international attention up on these set of rules, so that more countries who are ILO member States also ratify it. Ratification means also that domestic workers have real access to redress mechanisms, when their contracts or their rights in general are not respected. It’s also a deterrent for employment agencies and employers who do not play by the rules. In 2009, Caritas Internationalis started a campaign for migrant domestic workers’ rights. Many Caritas members provide services to domestic workers and had expressed their concern about the abuses such workers had to suffer. The campaign contributed [...]
As the Philippines struggles to cope with massive flooding, assessment teams from NASSA (Caritas Philippines) and Catholic Relief Services (a Caritas members from the USA) have visited the worst-affected areas. They spoke with flood victims now living in elementary schools, churches and gymnasiums that are being used as evacuation centres. “The majority of the families in the evacuation centres have houses that are submerged right now,” says Father Edwin Gariguez, Executive Director of NASSA. “They expect to stay at the centres for weeks or even months while their houses homes are still under water.” The centres are housing over 150,000 people. Most centres are overcrowded and lack adequate latrines and bathing facilities. Drinking water is also difficult to obtain. “There are long queue times for water supply,” says Father Gariguez. “There are rations of drinking water in some areas, but it is still insufficient, and sometimes people don’t have enough containers [...]
Caritas is working quickly to help people suffering because of massive flooding in the Philippines. Elizabeth Tromans of Catholic Relief Services (a Caritas member based in the USA) is helping respond to the floods in metro Manila, and describes one woman's story on the CRS blog: Through the metal bars of a window in an elementary school now used as an evacuation center, Marisol Ugay, 29, holds a toddler and an infant in her lap and gives a reluctant smile as she explains, “I don’t normally look this old; it’s just the stress.” For nearly two weeks, the monsoon rains haven’t stopped in metro Manila and surrounding areas. The torrential rains, which began on August 7, have affected 1.2 million people and forced 242,000 people out of their homes and into evacuation centers. The Philippine government reports a total of 614 evacuation centers throughout central Luzon. At its most severe, rain [...]
In the Philippines, where thousands of people lost their homes to powerful Typhoon Washi, a Caritas partner is using timber from logs that were washed down the river to build temporary shelters. In rural areas, they are also distributing housing repair kits – tools, sheeting and plywood – and helping to repair water systems. Read more about the work of CAFOD (a Caritas member based in the UK) and ECOWEB, its partner on the ground.
Carino Antequisa of CAFOD (Caritas UK) is on the ground in the southern Philippines responding to the emergency. He writes: I have just come back from our assessment in the interior areas of Iligan. I'm a bit tired as we had to hike some stretches of impassable roads to reach some devastated communities along the Mandulog River. Our team was the first to reach some of the interior villages that were totally swept by the rampaging water. The situation in the interior villages is very much the same as in the urban areas. However, what they considered as immediate needs are nails, roofing materials, a chainsaw for cutting the fallen coconut trees for their new homes, and food while they reconstruct their houses. Most of them still have farms that were partially destroyed but still could provide food. There is a visible need for improving their water supply. They need shelter, along [...]
By Jennifer Hardy, CRS Regional Information Officer for Asia When people living along the river went to sleep in Cagayan de Oro on Friday night, they didn’t know that a wall of water was barreling toward their homes. By 11 pm, communities in this part of the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines were mostly quiet. Radios were silenced for the night. Residents didn’t hear the emergency warnings broadcast by the government shortly before water crashed into homes on the riverbank. Survivors made it out of the water with their lives, but few possessions. Others perished before they could even leave their homes. Joe Curry, Catholic Relief Services’ country representative for the Philippines, arrived at the flood zone and met people who had lost everything. “Some people don’t even have shoes – their sandals were pulled off their feet in the flood,” he says. The topography of Cagayan de […]
Caritas teams continue to fan out over the southern Philippine island of Mindanao to help families suffering because of massive flash flooding. Over 600 people died in the flood, and parts of Cagayan de Oro City and Iligan City were washed away. Tens of thousands of people are living in evacuation centres like university gyms. “Because Mindanao is not used to having storms like this, many people were caught unprepared,” says Bishop Broderick Pabillo, auxiliary bishop of Manila. “This may be a result of climate change--typhoons come at times and places where they usually do not. This storm cost a lot of human lives and caused a lot of damage.” Caritas Philippines, known within the country as NASSA, has sent a team to the Diocese of Iligan. Catholic Relief Services, a Caritas member from the USA, has a team on the ground in Cagayan de Oro. News sources report that the number [...]
For a long time, the Philippines was considered to have a relatively low AIDS rate, but in recent years this has started to change. Nowadays HIV in the Philippines is described as “hidden and growing”. At a recent forum in Tagaytay, the Philippines’ first Catholic HIV/AIDS network was launched. Caritas Internationalis’ special advisor on HIV and AIDS, Msgr Robert Vitillo, says the network comes at the right time. Caritas Philippines will play a key role in the AIDS network. “One reason the network is so important is the shift in the pattern of the epidemic, which could grow more rapidly than in the past,” says Msgr Vitillo. The Philippines has a large migrant population that leaves the country to look for work. There is a greater risk of HIV infection among migrant workers and the return of migrant workers to the Philippines is thought to have an impact on the country’s AIDS [...]
Caritas is preparing to help communities hit by a massive typhoon in the Philippines. Super Typhoon Megi is battering communities in the north of the country with heavy rains and powerful winds of 225 km/h. The category 5 storm is the strongest to hit the Philippines in four years. Arnaldo Arcadia is an Emergency Programme Manager for CRS (Catholic Relief Services is a US member of Caritas). Speaking from Luzon, near the city of Baguio, he said: “We were about 12 km outside the city when the storm began. We are taking refuge in the parish now because the winds and rain are strong. The wind is battering the windows and the visibility is poor—I can only see about 20 m. The trees are shaking and swaying.” Caritas Philippines says that some areas are cut off and that the storm will affect a wide swath of the country. “At the moment we don’t [...]
The residents of Mary Grace neighbourhood in Bulacan, Philippines, are used to adversity. Most lived in slums by the railroads for years before being relocated by the government to a new riverside neighbourhood. From time to time, the river rises and floods their homes. While inconvenient, they say prayers to God for keeping their families safe and look to the Catholic Church for spiritual and physical support. But on September 26, 2009, the flooding caused by Typhoon Ketsana was unlike anything they had ever seen. “People ran to the church, but water started to rise there too,” says Father Vic Robles, a local Catholic parish priest who has helped poor residents in the area to build homes over the years. “We prayed, and three hours later the water went down.” Most residents stayed in the nearby school overnight before returning to see what had happened to their houses. They were in for [...]
Caritas emergency officers are at full stretch bringing aid to the survivors of a series of humanitarian disasters. Typhoon Ketsana appeal Tyhpoon Ketsana (known locally as Typhoon Ondoy) has made 600,000 people homeless in the Philippines and left 1.8 million people in need. The storm has left a trail of destruction across Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Caritas is providing aid to the most vulnerable in the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia. Caritas and the Catholic Church in the Philippines has already helped survivors with food and shelter and is rushing to do more. For the Philippines, Caritas has launched an appeal for US$ 980,216.29 (Euros 666,813.80) to provide food, medicine, shelter materials and other aid items for 50,000 of the worst affected people for a month. In Cambodia Typhoon Ketsana caused extensive damage. It forced 20,000 people from their homes and destroyed scores of buildings and some infrastructure. Caritas will provide a one month food ration [...]