Aussie Aid Agencies Respond To Typhoon Haiyan

Australian Aid agencies are rushing to help their international counterparts to assist the victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

Casualties are expected to rise as the first emergency workers reach the areas worst hit by Typhoon Haiyan, World Vision has already warned.

Aid agencies say as many as 18 million people are now confirmed to have been affected in the Philippines. Super Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful on record, destroyed thousands of homes as it tracked across central Philippines before going on to strike Vietnam.

Reports from the city of Tacloban, already estimate more than 10,000 people have died in that area alone.  And the number of fatalities is likely to rise as communications channels are restored and access improves to the worst affected areas.

World Vision says its staff have been battling to reach survivors after roads and bridges have been destroyed. Blankets and tarpaulins to provide temporary shelter for some of the most vulnerable people are expected reach the Philippines as soon as possible.

World Vision’s National Director in the Philippines, Josaias Dela Cruz, said that time was of the essence in responding to the significant humanitarian need generated by Typhoon Haiyan’s destruction.

The Federal Government has pledged $10 million in emergency aid to the  Philippines.

"Every minute counts as the death toll rises,” he said.

“The extent of the damage is still not fully known, we are doing everything we can to scale up as quickly as possible and begin bringing relief and hope to our country. This first shipment of emergency supplies will be tremendously helpful."

As casualties climb and the devastating impact of Typhoon Haiyan is increasingly evident, World Vision says it is launching one of its largest relief operations in the country's history, mobilising staff across the country to respond to the disaster.

Three World Vision emergency assessment teams are in the worst-affected areas, including Bohol Province, Samar and Leyte Province, and Panay Island. Power outages plus the destruction of major roads, airports, and infrastructure have made it incredibly difficult to reach survivors to provide urgently-needed assistance and get a clearer picture of the total devastation. Teams are traveling by plane, boat, and motorbike to reach these villages as quickly as possible.

Red Cross staff and volunteers are on the ground in the disaster-affected communities, helping people evacuate and providing emergency first aid and relief supplies, such as food, water and shelter.

An Australian Red Cross logistics specialist headed to the hardest hit regions immediately to help coordinate the relief effort, and more disaster management experts are on standby.

Assessment of the damage and destruction has begun, search and rescue teams are in the field, and emergency supplies are being distributed to those in the worst hit areas. A disaster of this magnitude will require an international response.

Oxfam says it will be sending rapid emergency response teams to areas worst affected by Typhoon Haiyan.

Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Dr Helen Szoke said shelter, water and sanitation would be vitally important in the immediate response from teams on the ground.

“Basic needs such as water, sanitation and emergency shelter will be the primary focus of our response,” Dr Szoke said.

“Oxfam in the Philippines is experienced in responding to emergencies and has a particularly strong reputation in the area of water, sanitation, hygiene and emergency food security.”

Children’s aid agency, Save the Children says its rapid response team, which includes a medical doctor, is on the ground in the city of Tacloban, assessing the damage and preparing to meet the needs of children and families in the hardest-hit areas.

“With a history of responding to emergencies in the Philippines, we have pre-prepared relief kits ready for distribution to children and families. These kits include toiletries, household cleaning items, temporary school tents and learning materials,” Save the Children CEO Paul Ronalds said.

“In Australia, we’re releasing money from our Children’s Emergency Fund and have deployed humanitarian specialists to help spearhead the disaster response.”

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