Monday 23 April 2018

Typhoon devastation in Philippines is much worse than Haiti, warns Irish charity boss

A young baby eats in a temporary shelter in Tacloban on the Island of Leyte, Philippines. Photo:Julien Behal/Maxwells
A young baby eats in a temporary shelter in Tacloban on the Island of Leyte, Philippines. Photo:Julien Behal/Maxwells
Surviving children of Typhoon Haiyan rest in a hammock attached to wooden poles of what is going to become a new house in the eastern Samar costal village of Hernani
A resident walks past a car which landed amid fallen trees in Tacloban, after super Typhoon Haiyan battered the city in central Philippines
Survivors of Typhoon Haiyan try to get aid and relief items distributed from a truck near their shelter in Tacloban
Military personnel carry relief aid supplies to load up their helicopters before an air distribution in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan at Tacloban City airport
A boy carries a bucket of water to his family's makeshift housing in the eastern Samar costal village of Hernani November 18, 2013. The Philippines is facing up to an enormous rebuilding task from Typhoon Haiyan, which killed at least 3,681 people and left 1,186 missing, with many isolated communities yet to receive significant aid despite a massive international relief effort. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay (PHILIPPINES - Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT)
Forensic experts work on a mass grave with more than 700 bodies of victims of Typhoon Haiyan just outside Tacloban
Forensic experts work on a mass grave with more than 700 bodies of victims of Typhoon Haiyan just outside Tacloban
A 19-year-old survivor of Typhoon Haiyan carries her second child, a two-week-old baby girl
A survivor of Typhoon Haiyan carries a bucket of laundry from a nearby river in the eastern Samar costal village of Hernani
The remnants of an eastern Samar costal road in the village of Hernani, some 30 km (19 miles) north of Guiuan, where Typhoon Haiyan first made landfall
A survivor of Typhoon Haiyan piles up wood to build a house in the eastern Samar costal village of Hernani
A survivor of Typhoon Haiyan carries wood from his destroyed house to build a new one in the eastern Samar costal village of Hernani
Children play near a sign reading "Help Us", in the eastern Samar village of Barangay Batang, in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan
A survivor of Typhoon Haiyan builds a new house from the remnants of his previous one

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

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