Int’l Catholic agencies join Pablo relief efforts

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The Barutag family pictured outside their home in Talisay, Boljoon, after it was wrecked by waves as high as fifteen feet. Typhoon Bopha ravaged parts of central and southern Philippines killing more than 300 people. (Victor Kintanar)

MANILA, Dec. 6, 2012— As thousands of Filipino families remained in shelters, a US-based Catholic relief agency has started its operations to ensure that typhoon victims have access to clean water and proper sanitation.

Joining the local church’s relief efforts, the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has sent five teams on the ground especially in areas hit hard by typhoon Pablo (Bopha) to assess the damage.

According to the official international humanitarian agency of the United States Catholic Bishops’ Conference, the teams are also talking to people about their immediate needs.

“They’re seeing families on the streets without homes, families in evacuation centers,” CRS country representative Joe Curry told Catholic News Service.

“There’s a lot of housing damage. This is an area of the world where housing is quite fragile,” he said.

The agency indicated that it will currently prioritize Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental, which it said were among the hardest hit areas.

“The provinces of Compostela and Davao Oriental, where CRS will respond with hygiene and sanitation kits, as well as sleeping mats, blankets and tarps, suffered considerable damage,” the CRS said.

“There is no electricity and poor communications in those provinces, and while some families have taken shelter in evacuation centers, others are sleeping outside,” it added.

Typhoon Pablo, the strongest cyclone to hit the country this year, killed at least 300 people with hundreds more missing, and leaving a path of destruction and despair.

CRS initial assessment revealed that hardest hit were the coastal, farming and mining towns in the southern region of Mindanao, where the typhoon caused severe flooding and landslides.

Raging waters and mud from the mountains swept through school buildings, covered courts, town halls and health centers, it also said.

The Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) also said it will respond to the needs of the typhoon victims.

CAFOD is the official Catholic aid agency for England and Wales. (RL/CBCPNews)



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