Saturday 24 March 2018

GOAL and Aer Lingus bring vital aid to stricken Philippines

Fiona Ellis

ALMOST 40 tonnes of much-needed humanitarian aid from Ireland will arrive in the Philippines in the coming days to assist some of the millions of people affected by Typhoon Haiyan.

Aer Lingus and Goal teamed up to fly emergency medical equipment, aqua tabs, water, food, shelter materials and other items to the stricken country to aid those who lost everything in the super typhoon over a fortnight ago.

A specially commissioned flight left Dublin Airport yesterday morning carrying the supplies and landed in Dubai at 7.55pm, local time, last night.

From there, Goal will arrange onward transportation of the stocks to the Philippines, where they will be distributed by the aid agency over the coming days and weeks.

The aid arriving today is much-needed, said Julien Behal, a photojournalist with Maxwell's photo agency, who travelled to the Philippines with Goal last week.

"The devastation there is unbelievable. People literally had their entire homes and every trace of themselves wiped completely away," he said.

Some 11 million people are affected, with 500,000 left homeless. "There were bodies literally everywhere, almost like you'd see bags of rubbish left out for collection in Dublin on every street corner, and then the smell. It was just horrendous stuff," Mr Behal added.

Firms nationwide responded to Goal's request for aid stocks. The Irish Defence Forces donated materials valued at almost €60,000, while the Construction Industry Federation provided €10,000 worth of stock.

"Once again, the people of Ireland have been extraordinarily generous, particularly considering the short timeframe we were operating in," said Goal chief Barry Andrews.

"I would also like to sincerely thank everyone at Aer Lingus for arranging this flight, and for the cockpit, cabin crew and operations staff employees, who volunteered their free time."

Goal has reached almost 17,000 people across Leyte and Panay, and it is planning more distributions in Tacloban city.

A team of government experts is to travel to the Philippines this week to assess how Ireland can best assist the country to recover from the devastating effects of Typhoon Haiyan.

Foreign Affairs Minister Eamon Gilmore said Ireland was quick to respond to the immense suffering. However, while the world's cameras are "moving on", millions of Filipino citizens remain homeless, their livelihoods destroyed and their families at risk.

"We have charged the team with assessing how Ireland can be most effective in responding to the longer-term needs of communities in the Philippines," the Tanaiste added.

Irish Independent

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