Philippines relief

Philippines.jpgAs most readers will know, the Philippines have recently been devastated by the greatest storm in recorded history—Typhoon Haiyan. 1.9 million people have been left homeless; it’s likely that more than 4,000 died.

International aid has, thankfully, not been slow in coming. Canada’s military has been playing a significant role with its Disaster Assistance Response Team. Conditions are improving, but there is still a long way to go.

The Canadian government has pledged to match donations to registered charities for the relief effort. Oxfam Canada and other member agencies of the Humanitarian Coalition have already secured $5 million in government funding to assist the victims of Typhoon Haiyan. The government has announced a total of $20 million in funds at this point for Canadian and international aid groups.

I’m proud that our labour movement is playing its part. The Canadian Labour Congress put out an appeal for donations to Oxfam Canada. Individual unions are already involved. The PSAC’s Social Justice Fund has made a $25,000 donation—$10,000 to Oxfam Canada and $15,000 to union and community partners in the Philippines—and with our Components, Locals and regional committees, our own union’s contribution now exceeds $50,000.

Oxfam is on the ground in the Philippines, helping to restore access to clean water and basic sanitation, providing tents and tarpaulins to flooded-out families there, and assisting in restarting farming and fishing, and setting up food markets. Oxfam plans to assist 100,000 people in the first phase of their work. In the devastated town of Tacloban, Oxfam has been working on the immediate repair and rehabilitation of the water system: 276,400 people (80 per cent of the population) now have access to water.

As noted, there is an enormous amount of work left to be done. 13 million people have been affected by the storm: 4 million people have been displaced from their homes and lands. 2.5 million require food aid, of whom only 1.1 million have been reached through international relief efforts.
Everyone’s help is needed. Please give generously.

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