“The priority is to feed the survivors and to bury the dead” – that was the message as international relief efforts intensified faced with the extent of suffering in the Philippines.
The World Food Programme is just one of dozens of organisations sending help. Their first delivery is 40 tons of high energy biscuits.
But getting aid through is not easy as WFP spokesperson Frances Kennedy explained:
“The biggest challenges, for us, the World Food Programme, and for the whole humanitarian community and the government, are the logistics. It’s airports that are broken down, roads that are still covered in debris, things that are being cut off.”
Fear of disease is also a concern so mobile hospitals and teams of medics including 25 doctors from Japan are on their way.
“Entire areas have been completely and utterly decimated, so keeping those alive as well as dealing with the corpses, you know, they’re concurrent priorities and already teams are on the ground dealing with that and more teams are on the way,” said John Ging from the United Nations Humanitarian Affairs Operational Division.
Of the ten million people affected by the super typhoon, four million are said to be children.
UNICEF said its staff in the Philippines is being repositioned to help in relief efforts and 66 tons of emergency supplies are being sent from Copenhagen.
An airlift set to arrive on Tuesday will include water purification systems, storage equipment and sanitation supplies.
Doctors Without Borders said it has 15 members in Cebu city and will send an additional 50 people in the next few days. It is also is sending 329 tons of medical and relief supplies on three cargo planes.
And both the US and the UK are sending naval ships carrying equipment and supplies as just part of their response to the disaster.