Monday, November 11, 2013

Pope sends $150,000, as Vatican sets up fund for victims of super typhoon in Philippines




November 11, 2013. (Romereports.com) The death toll is estimated at 10,000, but expected to grow. There are millions affected, and nearly 600,000 people displaced, after Typhoon Haiyan battered the Philippines with 150mph winds and 10-foot tidal waves.  

PATRICK NICHOLSON
Communications Director, Caritas Internationalis
“People who've flown over the area say they haven't seen similar to this since the Asian Tsunami in 2004 or the Haiti earthquake, so we're talking about a massive catastrophe.”

Such comparisons are proof of the destruction, and the need for immediate assistance. Catholic groups stepped up right away.

Pope Francis, through the Vatican's Cor Unum Council, agreed to send $150,000 to the Catholic Church in the Philippines. The money will be distributed among the dioceses hardest hit by the storm.

Meanwhile the Vatican's official aid agency, Caritas Internationalis, created a special fund where people can donate to support aid efforts. They also have aid workers on the ground, assessing the damage and helping out victims.

PATRICK NICHOLSON
Communications Director, Caritas Internationalis
“In a disaster of this magnitude, disease can spread very quickly. We're seeing lots of dead bodies on the street, so that's a real concern. So getting water that is clean, and hygiene set up is really key.”

Caritas Internationalis is coordinating with its local affiliate in the Philippines, as well as U.S.-based Catholic Relief Services, and the country's government.

The network of Catholic dioceses and churches in the devout Pacific nation has allowed Caritas to reach victims almost immediately. But the challenge in the coming days is helping out people living in more remote areas.

PATRICK NICHOLSON
Communications Director, Caritas Internationalis
“Our immediate reports are, again, of whole communities being washed away, and the levels of destruction being very high. So those are our real concerns at the moment, to reach those places, which haven't yet been reached, and to provide the assistance the survivors there really need.”

Besides hygiene, the other priorities for Caritas are ensuring people affected by Typhoon Haiyan have access to food and water. They also see an immediate need for housing and counseling.

And while long-term reconstruction efforts are also on their minds, Caritas Internationalis said the focus, at the moment, is on saving lives.

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