independent

Friday 18 April 2014

Charities tell of chaos as aid arrives for first time

IRISH charities have reported incredible devastation and chaotic scenes as aid reaches parts of the Philippines for the first time since the typhoon struck.

Children's charity UNICEF, which previously warned that up to four million children were affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan, says the damage is on a scale never before seen following a natural disaster.

"Parents are unable to feed themselves or their children," warned Executive Director Peter Power yesterday.

"UNICEF is looking after immediate needs on the ground – food, water, shelter and sanitation – but there is chaos on the ground with difficulties accessing the people who need aid the most."

Mr Power added:

"I have heard disturbing reports of children scavenging for food amongst the bodies of dead people. These vulnerable children need our support."

World Vision delivered food, water and sanitation to northern Cebu yesterday – the first aid the area has received since the typhoon struck a week ago.

There is also a growing concern for displaced children open to abuse and trafficking.

CEO Helen Keogh warned that "as the aid response to the Philippines disaster intensifies the prevention of violence against children must be at the front of everyone's minds."

Members of the Irish rugby team, meanwhile, lent their support behind Plan Ireland's Emergency Philippines appeal and asked the public to text the word SUPPLIES to 50300.

Plan Ireland will also hold a special collection at the Ireland v Australia match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin, tomorrow.

Former Irish International and Plan Ireland ambassador Malcolm O'Kelly said: "I'm thrilled that the lads took time out ahead of their big game against the Aussies to get behind Plan Ireland's fundraising initiative.

Plan Ireland has been working in the Philippines for over 50 years and has extensive experience in responding to disasters in the country."

The Presbyterian Church of Ireland has already released £40,000 in donations. Church moderator Dr Rob Craig launched a church-wide appeal for congregations around the country to support the relief efforts.

The church can be contacted on 028 9032 2284. World Vision Ireland is asking for the public's support also and people can text APPEAL to 51500 or visit www.worldvision.ie

The Red Cross has also appealed for more donations – by phone at 1850 50 50 70 or online at redcross.ie.

To support UNICEF Ireland's Philippines Emergency Children's Appeal, visit www.unicef.ie or call lo-call 1850 767 999.

Irish Independent

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