TACLOBAN CITY: The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and its partners, the Red Cross and Red Crescent, announced that it is now focusing its efforts on providing clean water and emergency health care to the victims of super typhoon “Yolanda” in the Visayas Region.
In Eastern Samar, one of the areas hardest-hit by the super typhoon, the devastation has compounded the stark consequences of armed conflict.
“People already living in dire poverty have seen their crops and livelihoods destroyed, while water networks and health facilities have been severely affected. These communities will need a lot of help in the coming months — and beyond — to rebuild their lives,” ICRC coordinator Vincent Cassard said.
Over the coming three months, the ICRC and the Philippine Red Cross will provide 67,000 people with drinking water and around 63,000 people with emergency health care.
The two organizations also intend to help communities rebuild their livelihoods in the longer term.
“We will keep distributing food to affected communities along the south coast of Samar as long as needed, but we plan to help people get back on their feet through sustainable sources of income,” Cassard added.
Working with the Norwegian and Finnish Red Cross Societies, the ICRC has set up an emergency hospital in Basey and a basic health care unit in Balangiga.
The two facilities will provide essential medical services while damaged health infrastructure is being repaired, something the ICRC plans to support.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Red Cross processed around 35,000 missing persons inquiries in the days following the typhoon.
With the ICRC, it has been helping the population of Samar and Leyte islands inform their relatives that they survived, by registering their names on public lists or by making satellite phones available to them to call home.
Much water infrastructure repair work has focused on the devastated town of Guiuan, the site of several evacuation centers.
ICRC engineers have worked closely with the local water board to transport drinking water for over 30,000 people every day and get pumping stations running again.
Water treatment units and distribution systems have also been set up in seven municipalities for more than 40,000 people living along the coast.
Deliveries of food and household essentials have proved life-saving for the remote coastal communities most exposed to the typhoon’s landfall, including Victory and Homonhon Islands, accessible by boat from Guiuan.
Over 58,000 people from mainland communities have received food.
The ICRC’s normal activities in the Philippines include visiting jails to help the authorities ensure detention conditions are in keeping with international standards.
In the aftermath of the super typhoon, the ICRC visited 23 jails in Samar and Leyte to identify urgent needs and in some cases delivered food and water.
During these visits, ICRC staff helped detainees without news from their relatives to contact them by phone.
The ICRC already has nearly 120 staff on the ground, and that number is set to increase as the organization continues its work on Samar Island. PNA