By Attila Kulcsar
Leading British charities – including HelpAge International's sister organisation, Age International – have launched a public fundraising appeal to provide humanitarian assistance to people affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. (c) COSE
The appeal by the 14 member organisations of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) follows the devastation caused by the Typhoon and will help fund HelpAge International's work with older people caught in the disaster.
Typhoon Haiyan – said to be the strongest ever to make landfall – has rendered roads impassable and airports out of action which is severely hampering relief efforts.
Responding to the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan
Frances Stevenson, Head of Emergencies at HelpAge International, said:
"Our experience in previous emergencies shows that disasters like this have a disproportionate impact on older people. They are more likely to be among the casualties and less able to get access to emergency assistance.
"In the aftermath of the Typhoon, older people will need assistance for specific age-related needs such as treatment for chronic diseases. They will also need to be able to access the general assistance and services provided by the government and by humanitarian agencies."
DEC Chief Executive, Saleh Saeed, said:
"The destruction in Tacloban city, on the east coast, is said to be reminiscent of the Boxing Day Tsunami. There is currently no food, water or electricity. We can only imagine how much worse the situation will be for families living in towns and remote villages.
"DEC members are doing all they can to get aid through but they need a huge injection of funds in order to do so. The priorities are getting food, water and shelter to people in desperate need."
Reaching vulnerable older people in the Philippines
DEC member agencies are now trying to provide help to 9.5 million people who have been affected, of which HelpAge estimates 1.3 million are over the age of 50. HelpAge International is currently collaborating with its local partner the Coalition of Services for the Elderly (COSE) to help older people in the affected areas.
We are using COSE's expertise to identify the needs of the most vulnerable groups affected by the Typhoon. This includes carrying out assessments that look at the situation of older people in affected communities and evacuation shelters to ensure their access to essential relief services and looking at the best ways of providing further assistance.
No assistance in some areas
Although some international NGOs have reached Tacloban City, one of the worst hit areas, we are concerned that there are some areas where there are no international agencies at all.
We are trying to access regions on other islands which have also been devastated. All the homes have been flattened, but there is no assistance for people in these areas except from the local government units.
The main priorities are food and clean water. There is also a need for shelter as houses have been destroyed and many have been left wandering the streets. We are also concerned that there is no medical assistance for people who were injured during the Typhoon.
In the UK
Our sister organisation, Age International, has launched an emergency appeal to support older people affected by Typhoon Haiyan.
Or you can text URGENT to 70004 to donate £5 to help older people in the Philippines.
In the USA
Our sister organisation, HelpAge USA, has launched an emergency appeal to support older people affected by Typhoon Haiyan.
If you live outside the UK and the USA you can donate to support older people by Typhoon Haiyan here.