Friday February 7, 2014

Typhoon Haiyan – three months on

Typhoon Haiyan was 300 miles across when it struck the Philippines on 7th November – one of the most intense tropical storms to ever make landfall anywhere in the world. Over 14 million people across nine regions were affected, including more than 5.4 million children, with 6,166 reported dead.

Over four million people have been left homeless, including Deserie Stephin and her two children. Deserie refers to the night that the typhoon hit as “that horrific night.” She explains: “I still remember all the people were running to reach safer places and shouting for help. It was horrific and a very cold chilling night I will never forget. Our children were frightened and they kept shouting all the night.”

“We kept praying to God for our lives, and for a peaceful morning. Time was passing very slowly.”

Islamic Relief has been on the ground since November, reaching 133,495 people so far. We have supplied more than 20,000 households with vital food packages, containing rice, noodles, vegetables, biscuits and water.

Shelter is one of the most pressing needs in the Philippines, and we have provided tents and tarpaulins to 4,500 homeless families – our largest ever single consignment of humanitarian relief, weighing 110 tonnes. These families immediately set about creating new homes within the tents, with tarpaulins being used as temporary roofs to protect students from the scorching sun.

Deserie’s two children have recently returned to one of these schools, and she said “I can’t express my gratitude about the help you provided to us.”

As well as providing temporary homes, we’re building 270 permanent shelters with support from the Disasters Emergency Committee. The Philippines is disaster-prone, so it’s vital that we don’t use shelter material which will fall apart during the next storm – we have to “build back better”, so that shelters are more resilient. We’ve also distributed 35,000 shelter kits, helping 175,000 people rebuild their homes, but this is far short of the number of damaged houses.

To date, the DEC Philippines Typhoon Appeal has raised £90 million – the third highest total for an appeal in the DEC’s 50-year history. DEC members and partners, including Islamic Relief and our local partner, RAFI, have reached over 4 million people. The DEC are working not simply to provide short-term emergency solutions, but to help families get back to normality and support themselves – for example, providing farmers with seeds, fertiliser and tools to take advantage of the rice planting season, growing food for their families and starting to earn a living again by selling the crops.

Stories of some of the inspirational survivors we’ve met in the last three months can be found on our Facebook page. To support our work, please donate online.

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