Emergency appeal to support 15,000 families affected by floods in Philippines

Publié: 26 août 2013 12:21 CET

By Madeline Wilson, IFRC

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has launched a 1.68 million Swiss franc (1.8 million US dollars, 1.36 million euros) preliminary emergency appeal to help the Philippine Red Cross deliver emergency assistance to 75,000 people affected by the floods in the Philippines.

Heavy monsoon rains, intensified by tropical storm Trami (local name Maring), began on 18 August and continued for five days, causing flooding in Metro Manila and across the island of Luzon. The flooding has affected over 2.9 million people across 45 municipalities and cities, with 22 deaths reported and three people missing.

At the peak of the flooding, more than 800,000 people were displaced from their homes and sought safety in evacuation centres or with friends and family. Some 63,500 people remain in evacuation centres.

Carmen, 79, fled to an evacuation centre in Bulacan Province with her three children and 14 grandchildren when the floodwaters inundated her home. Sharing an overcrowded sports complex with 266 other families (1,330 people), Carmen and her family have strung up cotton sheets with rope to create a small amount of privacy and a place to sleep.

Before the floods, Carmen was suffering with a cough. After a week in the evacuation centre her condition hasn’t improved.

“I feel sick and exhausted,” says Carmen. “Our house and community is still flooded, we don’t know how long we will have to be here.”

After conducting extensive search and rescue operations, the Philippine Red Cross is now focusing on relief activities, including providing affected families with food and emergency supplies; cash-based solutions to help families rebuild their damaged homes and livelihoods; water and sanitation assistance; and health and hygiene education.

“Ten of our community-based volunteers had to flee their homes and come to this evacuation centre,” says Tess Escartin, the Philippine Red Cross health and social services coordinator for Bulacan Province.  “Despite this, they have been working non-stop to help their community”.

Today, the volunteers are running a hygiene promotion session where women are taught how to maintain basic health and hygiene to prevent sickness. At the same time, children in the evacuation centre are attending a Red Cross child support session, where they draw their experience of the floods using paper and crayons.

“This gives them a creative outlet and enables them to talk about the traumatic experiences they may have gone through. It’s a step towards helping their recovery, ” says Escartin.

Carmen’s granddaughter Zaira, 7, runs to the sports centre grandstand to join other children in the drawing session. “I’m drawing two men swimming in the floodwater,” says Zaira. “It’s my father and brother. We came here with just our clothes. I was scared walking through the water.”

Although the floodwaters have receded in most parts of Metro Manila, it may be weeks before things return to normal in surrounding provinces. Families can be expected to stay in evacuation centres or with host families for extended periods.

“The longer people are unable to return to their home areas, the longer they are dependent on humanitarian aid,” says Bernd Schell, head of the IFRC office in Manila.

“It’s highly likely that the monsoon season will bring more storms in the weeks ahead. This emergency appeal is to provide immediate assistance, but also help us to be in a position to respond to what is likely to occur in the weeks and months ahead,” adds Schell.

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