Typhoon devastation in Philippines is much worse than Haiti, warns Irish charity boss
THE typhoon-ravaged Philippines is possibly the biggest humanitarian crisis ever faced by Unicef, says charity boss Peter Power.
Mr Power, the executive director of Unicef Ireland, visited the city of Tacloban today where 200,000 are now homeless and says the devastation is worse than after the earthquake in Haiti.
Unicef has warned it is "involved in its biggest relief effort to date" while Mr Power said today the world is facing into an "unprecedented humanitarian disaster."
He said the aid effort will need a "global response", with the 540,000 homeless children of the Philippines requiring humanitarian assistance "for months and years ahead." More than 4,000 are confirmed dead in the disaster.
"Ten days into this tragedy there are still dead people lying on the side of the road, it's incredible," Mr Power told Independent.ie. He also said that a "mass evacuation" is what the city needs.
The devastation in Tacloban is "much more widespread" than Haiti, explained Power who visited the Caribbean island after the 2010 earthquake. Coming home from Haiti he thought he'd never see anything like that in his life again but after visiting the Philippines today Power said he was "very, very wrong."
Children are wandering the streets looking for food and water and people are living under sheets of corrugated tin, said Mr Power, of the destruction he witnessed there today.
"The first thing that hits you is the smell of rotting corpses," he explained.
As of today a water treatment plant was restarted by Unicef and Usaid in the decimated city of Tacloban. Unicef will also roll out a vaccination programme there.
He also said, "I don't think the story of the colossal disaster of Tacloban has been told to Irish people, to be frank."
People can support UNICEF Ireland's Philippines Emergency Children's Appeal online www.unicef.ie or by phoning 01 878 3000.
By Joyce Fegan