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Caritas PH launches global appeal for super typhoon victims

CARITAS Philippines, the Catholic Church’s humanitarian arm, issued a global aid appeal to help victims of the world’s strongest storm this year that left more than 20 people dead and affected hundreds of thousands.

Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, Caritas national director, said the funds would initially help provide food, water and emergency shelter to people in worst-hit areas.

“With humility, we appeal for everyone’s sincere acts of kindness, generosity and compassion,” he said.

The tropical cyclone, which had reached a super typhoon category, displaced more than 390,000 people from their homes, with about 347,000 still staying in evacuation centers.

Photos on social media of destroyed houses, toppled trees and debris show the situation in the Bicol region, with several villages submerged in flood waters. More than 300 houses were also buried under volcanic mud flows in badly hit Albay province.

Bagaforo said the typhoon, which barrelled through southern Luzon on Sunday, will bring “greater poverty” to affected communities amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The church’s rapid assessment teams have already been deployed, while volunteers and diocesan response teams continue to assist the evacuees in various parishes.

The Archdiocese of Manila has also released an initial P1 million to support the urgent needs of the affected communities.

Caritas Manila executive director Fr. Anton Pascual said that Caceres archdiocese and the dioceses of Virac, Daet, Gumaca, and Legazpi will receive P200,000 each.

Fr. Tony Labiao, the national Caritas’ Executive Secretary, stressed that “in these most trying times, we lift up everything to our God.”

“We also know that everyone around the world will be able to listen to our prayers and send help,” he said.