Philippines: HelpAge and partners respond to Typhoon Haiyan


By Caroline Dobbing and Chattip Soralump

  • 10,000 people are reported dead in the Leyte island capital of Tacloban alone. Thousands more feared dead.
  • Around 615,000 people have been displaced and over 9.5 million people have been affected, of which we estimate 1.3 million are over 50.
  • Typhoon Haiyan one of the strongest recorded storms ever to make landfall.
  • Roads and bridges are severely damaged. There are power outages in most affected areas.
  • Widespread looting reported in Tacloban as people in desperate need of food and drinking water.
  • HelpAge already on the ground with partner COSE to support older people affected.

Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), one of the strongest ever recorded, hit the Philippines on Friday and battered the country with winds of up to 320km per hour. Waves 15m tall have been reported and there has been up to 400mm of rain in some places. A man walks past a tree uprooted by strong winds brought by super Typhoon Haiyan. A man walks past a tree uprooted by strong winds brought by super Typhoon Haiyan. (c) REUTERS/Zander Casas. Courtesy

The storm has devastated the Philippine archipelago, flattening homes and cutting off roads and power. Officials say that there may be 10,000 dead in the Leyte island capital of Tacloban alone and the death toll could be many thousands more. The UN humanitarian agency has reported more than 615,000 people have been displaced and over 9.5 million people have been affected.

Using population 2013 estimations from UNDESA, we estimate that around 1.3 million people over 50 have been affected and 85,000 have been displaced.

Responding to typhoon Haiyan

We're now working with our Affiliate in the Philippines, the Coalition of Services of the Elderly (COSE), to dispatch staff to affected areas in the Philippines. Coordinating with UNOCHA, Plan International, the Government and other agencies we are urgently assessing the impact of Typhoon Haiyan to develop a relief plan and ascertain older people's most urgent needs.

At the moment, people's principal needs are food, water and medicine. Millions of people are without food and clean water and there has been reported looting in Tacloban City due to hunger. Medicine is also a priority. The number of people injured is quickly rising and initial reports suggest health facilities in the hard-hit areas are badly damaged, health services are stretched and medical supplies are low.

HelpAge and COSE emergencies teams report that affected areas in central Philippines have been without electricity for some time. COSE staff have been deployed from Manila and Davao offices to affected areas, but with communication and transportation cut off they face huge challenges.

We have contacted communities in our project areas to ensure that older people can access relief assistance from government and humanitarian agencies. One of our emergencies team has managed to reach Tacloban city where up to 10,000 are said to have died and hundreds of thousands are displaced.

Older people particularly affected

Some of the areas hit by the Typhoon are where COSE regularly work with older people's associations. These same places were struck by a a 7.2-magnitude earthquake in the last two weeks, making the lives of older people and their families even worse.

Eduardo Klien, HelpAge Regional Director for East Asia/Pacific said: "As shown in previous disasters in the region, older people are particularly affected. Despite the evacuation measures taken by the Filipino government, older people have specific needs and require special attention from all agencies.

"HelpAge and COSE work have been working with older people's associations in affected areas. Once the scope of damages and the loss of lives become known, the need for urgent relief will become clearer. We will ensure the support and inclusion of older people during the relief and recovery ahead."

Haiyan hits Vietnam

Typhoon Haiyan has now made landfall in north Vietnam, near the tourist destination of Ha Long Bay, with winds of up to 140 km per. 600,000 people have already been evacuated from their homes in northern provinces of the country.

HelpAge's Country Programme Manager in Vietnam is closely monitoring the situation. We expect the damage will be significant and require an emergency response. We will have more information in the next 24 hours.

Donate now

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.

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Please help us support older people affected by Typhoon Haiyan.

> Donate from the UK (via our partner Age International).

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