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Tuesday 23 September 2014

Irish generosity reaches €4m for typhoon-hit Philippines

Published 16/03/2014 | 20:02

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Joe Costello Minister of State for Trade and Development pictured during the opening ceremony of the Hunger Nutrition Climate Justice conference in the Conference Hall, Dublin Castle as part of the Irish Presidency of the Council of the European Union, yesterday.
Pic Frank Mc Grath
Joe Costello Minister of State for Trade and Development

Irish people donated €4m to the typhoon-hit Philippines through various charities and this week the Minister for Development and Trade, Joe Costello, visits the country four months on from the world's most powerful storm.

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Since last November the Irish government has given €4.1m and it's expected that Minister Costello will announce another significant donation this week.

The minister's visit is part of the cabinet's St Patrick's Day trips around the world and it is understood he will meet with the Filipino minister for foreign affairs.

Devastating typhoon Haiyan made headlines last November 8 when winds of 275kph ravaged the island country for 16 hours straight leaving 4.1 million people homeless, 1.47 million of those were children. It was the most powerful storm ever recorded to make landfall.

With more than one million children homeless or orphaned as a result of the typhoon children's charity Plan, which received funding through Irish Aid, has built 73 child friendly spaces allowing 17,274 boys and girls access educational and recreational facilities.

Twelve-year-old Jhomelyn lives where the typhoon first made landfall and her house was destroyed by the "big waves," she says. Her school is used as a shelter by the people in her village who were all made homeless by typhoon Haiyan.

Her father and sisters made the family a make-shift home from scrap wood and tarpaulin and for the last four months they have eaten only rice and sardines.

"I was the dishes, wash the clothes, clean the floor and hang up the clothes," says the 12-year-old, "I miss going to school." The only time she does return to her school building is when it rains for shelter as everyone gets soaked in the make-shift hut.

Plan said that "it's a tough time for everyone, but for children, the break in routine can have a lasting psychological impact, which is why it's important that girls and boys go back to school as soon as possible."

The charity, which has been working in the Philippines for 50 years, has also provided 43,433 families with hygiene kits, built 2,339 toilets and supported 10,391 people through cash-for-work programmes.

Minister Costello's visit is to restate Ireland's commitment to long-term recovery efforts in the Philippines and it follows a delegation from the Department of Foreign Affairs that inspected the disaster zone last November.

Travelling in from Singapore he arrives in Tacloban tomorrow and will inspect Irish-aid funded programmes in surrounding areas over the coming days where he will announce additional funding from the Irish government.

Ireland was one of the first country's to respond to typhoon Haiyan and the government plans to assist in the recovery efforts for another 18 months.

Charities reported that the disaster was met with one of the most generous responses from the Irish public, despite factors including the recession, the run-up to Christmas and the breaking of the CRC top-up scandal.

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