The largest and strongest typhoon ever to hit the North Pacific has caused unimaginable suffering and hardship. Relentless winds of over 200mph and terrifying 20ft waves made this one of the strongest storms ever recorded.
The Super-Typhoon struck the eastern seaboard of the Philippines sweeping away homes and already vulnerable coastal villages – causing death and catastrophic damage throughout the island nation.
The horror is only starting to emerge – at least 700,000 people are displaced and already more than 10,000 are known to have been killed in Leyte province, in the hardest-hit Eastern Visayas Islands. More than nine million people have been affected by the storm – known locally as Typhoon Yolanda – across nine regions of the country. All these numbers will increase.
The heartbreaking detail of this tragedy is becoming slowly more apparent as stories from families who cannot access food, clean water, sanitation or shelter reach us.
Edinburgh-based Mercy Corps first worked in the Philippines in 1991, helping to improve livelihoods and the lives of low-income communities. We know that the storm has devastated some of the country’s most vulnerable people and we have launched an emergency response and an appeal for our emergency fund to help.
Mercy Corps has responded to almost every major disaster in the last 20 years, including the Boxing Day tsunami, Haiti earthquake, Japan tsunami, the hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa and the on-going Syria crisis.
Based on our experience in these situations, in the Philippines we will focus on providing immediate, life-saving assistance while keeping in mind longer-term recovery. We are working with partners to immediately evaluate distribution needs of non-food items including shelter, hygiene kits, and water. The needs are great and there is a very real threat of disease outbreaks. There is also growing concern about a new storm in the region. It is nowhere near as powerful but with so many so vulnerable it is bound to cause further misery.
We urgently need the support of people here in our home city to help us to help people in the Phillippines. Cash donations will help us to buy the items we need close to the disaster site, avoiding the high cost and difficulty of sorting, shipping, storing, and importing the goods. By purchasing materials in nearby markets, we can purchase exactly what is needed, support local economies and businesses and get aid to those who need it more quickly, and ultimately use our funds more effectively and wisely.
Your support now is critical to help families survive and begin rebuilding in the wake of this disaster. Donate to Mercy Corps at www.mercycorps.org.uk or by calling the team on 0131- 662 5173; Set up a Fundraising page atwww.justgiving.com/mercycorps; Follow the latest updates on Facebook: facebook.com/mercycorpsuk or Twitter: twitter.com/mercycorps_uk.
Ali MacLeod is director of fundraising and marketing for Mercy Corps.