Philippine relief effort widens to take in other typhoon hit areas | Asia Pacific

Philippine relief effort widens to take in other typhoon hit areas

Philippine relief effort widens to take in other typhoon hit areas

Updated 12 November 2013, 13:59 AEDT

Tacloban in Leyte province was badly hit by the typhoon, but other regions were just as seriously affected.

Authorities are still unable to reach remote communities, and the United Nations is using neighbouring Cebu City as a staging post to take supplies into affected areas.

The town of Ormoc is another focal point.

Over 600-thousand people fled their homes before the storm, and many traumatised children are left to fend for themselves.

Presenter: Sen Lam

Speaker: Julien Anseau, Asia communications manager for the aid group, ChildFund

ANSEAU: We're ready to deploy teams to Ormoc. We sent yesterday an advance party to go and check the situation in Ormoc. Our plan is to focus on Ormoc, a lot of attention on the part of aid agencies and the media is on Tacloban, but ChildFund is that Ormoc and other surrounding areas are equally as badly affected as Tacloban. ChildFund has worked in Ormoc for years with children there, and we have a local partner there. So our first focus is on Ormoc before turning our attention to Tacloban. There is great need.
LAM: Tell us a little bit about Ormoc, how badly affected is the town as far as you know?
ANSEAU: Well ChildFund staff reached Ormoc yesterday and we're the first aid organisation to arrive there. Firsthand accounts on arrival is that the port of Ormoc is damaged and so getting off the ferry and getting provisions and supplies off the ferry, and the ferry coming in from Cebu City, getting those provisions off the boat is a challenge. My staff say it's 100 per cent devastation, there is great need, there are children on the streets, they're looking for family members and parents.
LAM: We'll come to the children in a little bit, but as you mentioned much of the focus in the media has been on Tacloban and how badly affected it's been. But as you say there are other areas affected as well. You are currently in Cebu, can you tell us what is the situation in Cebu?
ANSEAU: Well the situation in Cebu is business as usual, in Cebu City anyway. On Cebu Island in the north and north-east, the typhoon ripped through communities there and they're still without electricity and communications. The situation in Cebu City is business as usual. The UN has declared it as a staging post for aid agencies to buy supplies; water and food and essential non-food items, to then send to the hardest hit areas on Leyte Island. So it's seen as a hub and a staging post for affected areas.
LAM: You are in the disaster region representing the aid group, ChildFund. How have children been affected by what's been described as the worst storm in living memory in the Philippines?
ANSEAU: Well children are on the streets looking for parents and family members. They are traumatised by what's happened, they're hungry, they're thirsty, often their parents are either missing or trying to get food, trying to get water and so children are left on their own to fend for themselves, no one's looking after them. And they're traumatised.
LAM: And who is helping these children?
ANSEAU: Well at the moment no one. They're left to be fending for themselves. Organisations like ChildFund are responsible obviously to provide humanitarian relief; food, water, hygiene kits, but also providing psycho-social support for children.
LAM: So of course organisations like ChildFund are looking towards the children's immediate needs. But is there a long term plan here to help the kids?
ANSEAU: Yes absolutely, so what we do at ChildFund in emergencies like these is that we setup what we call Child Centered Spaces. These are safe spaces for children to gather and to come together and to be in a safe place where they can play, where they can be with other children, where they can take part in normalising activities so that they can overcome the stress that they're going through. They can talk about what they've gone through, it's psycho-social support. That's in the immediate to medium term. This can go on for a number of months, and of course like I say, ChildFund has been working in Ormoc for years and we are committed to the communities in which we work. And so we will be there for the future as well. We won't just leave after the emergency is finished. We will be staying there, rebuilding the lives of communities that have been affected. We will be providing livelihood programs so that families can rebuild their livelihood and in doing so address the needs of children, and also around child protection as well.
LAM: The Philippine President of course has announced a state of emergency and indeed one would find it difficult to imagine any Filipino not touched by this disaster. How are the authorities coping in trying to look after children?
ANSEAU: Well I think clearly the situation is so overwhelming, this is unprecedented. Aid hasn't reached many communities, not only, the focus is on Tacloban, but the typhoon ripped through other parts of the Philippines that remain unreached, there is great need. Many areas haven't been reported on yet, but clearly communities there are affected.
LAM: So do you think that there might be many communities in the Philippines who are fending for themselves because they're out of reach?
ANSEAU: Absolutely, absolutely. The fact that communications haven't been restored indicates that the situation there is dire. If it wasn't then communications would have been restored by now, but clearly there is great need in those communities.

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