TAIPEI (AsiaNews) — Taiwan, the United States, Australia, the Catholic Church, the UN and other international agencies are allocating aid to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan which hit the central part of the Philippines on November 10, wiping out entire villages.
The Catholic communities of Taiwan, home to thousands of Filipino families, have given fund-raisers in parishes and have organized prayer vigils for the victims.
The Archdiocese of Taipei, in collaboration with the Church of St. Christopher, the parish for Filipino migrants, is collecting donations for the people affected by Typhoon Haiyan. Following the example of the archdiocese, parishes throughout the country are holding fund-raisers in solidarity with the people devastated by the disaster.
Fr. Mark is a Filipino priest resident in Hsinchu. He told AsiaNews that his parish has already started collecting to be sent to the survivors of the typhoon. He also noted that many Taiwanese have rallied, shocked by the images broadcast on television: “They know that the Catholic Church in the Philippines is close to the poor and to the families of the victims; this is why they come to us to make their donation.”
Rita is a young Filipina originally from the province of Leyte — one of the areas most affected by the tragedy — who now lives in Taiwan. The woman said that her “family miraculously escaped the tragedy, but I pray for all my friends, many of whom instead have dispersed among their loved ones.”
She added: “That area is very poor. The typhoon has caused a real catastrophe.”
Valerie Amos, UN under-secretary general for Humanitarian Affairs, on November 12 launched an aid campaign to raise about $301 million. According to UN figures, at least 11 million people have been affected by the fury of the typhoon, which blew with gusts exceeding 300 km/h. The first reports revealed that entire towns and villages were destroyed, with all trace being lost of some.
In the most affected areas, among them the province of Leyte, there are more than 670,000 displaced people.
The damage caused by the typhoon, considered the strongest ever to have struck the Philippines, has forced Benigno Aquino, president of the Philippines, to declare a “state of national calamity.”
One of the first governments to respond to the call for help was Taiwan. Taipei, as of November 12, had sent about $200,000 for immediate assistance, and two C-130 Hercules aircraft took off that morning with a load of essential aid.
Through the Pentagon, the United States announced the dispatch of the aircraft carrier George Washington to the Philippines carrying 80 aircraft and 5,000 men who will join the rescue operations, in many cases impossible by land and sea because of impassable roads and destroyed ports.
The U.S. has also set aside for now about $20 million in humanitarian aid.
The United States has one of the largest communities of Filipino migrants, with more than 2 million people.
Britain, the Europe Union, and Australia also responded to the request for aid launched by the Aquino government. On November 11, British Prime Minister David Cameron said that a warship of the Royal Navy was already en route to the Philippines, with rescue personnel and humanitarian aid. London had already allocated 10 million sterling in basic necessities.
The European Union has launched its program of support to countries affected by natural disasters, allocating about 3 million Euros for immediate aid.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said that her government has allocated about 10 million in Australian dollars for the purchase of basic necessities to send to the areas most affected by Typhoon Haiyan.