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The Westminster office of international charity CAFOD (Catholic Agency for Overseas Development) this week launched an urgent appeal for support for communities in the Philippines devastated by Typhoon Haiyan.

The aid agency is asking its supporters in the Westminster Diocese to help them meet the urgent needs of hundreds of thousands of Filipinos.

Typhoon Haiyan swept across the country on Friday with winds of up to 235kph, leaving a trail of massive destruction in its wake. Unofficial and unconfirmed estimates put the death toll at 10,000 in the island of Leyte alone. The storm is one of the strongest ever to make landfall and has flattened thousands of houses, destroyed schools and an airport in the eastern city of Tacloba.

CAFOD is working through its local partners in the Philippines trying to reach those most affected. The conditions are challenging with power still down in many areas and the full extent of the damage is not yet known.

Tony Sheen, manager for the Westminster Diocese, said:

“What we know from our experience of dealing with these sudden disasters in Haiti, Pakistan and Mozambique in recent years is that the best way people can help is supporting the local agencies who are there in place on the ground ready to get relief to those in need.

"Our local partners are already operating in the worst hit areas, responding to the most immediate needs, as well as continuing to provide food and shelter to people who lost their homes in the earthquake on the island of Bohol last month. The typhoon has added to the destruction, and made it more difficult to deliver aid – but we’re doing everything we can to reach people in isolated areas.

“People always respond generously to such tragic events and we’re grateful for any support they can give.”

Greg Auberry, the regional director of one of CAFOD’s partners in the Philippines, Catholic Relief Services, said:

“The pain of another disaster is devastating. We’re currently moving tarpaulins to Cebu City so that we can provide 8,000 families with inevitable shelter needs. Our response teams are travelling to the areas hardest hit to determine exactly what people need and how we can help them.”

Over the next few days, the typhoon is likely to cause more devastation in the Mekong River basin as it hits the coast of Vietnam. It may also add to existing flooding in Cambodia, where more than 140,000 are already homeless.

CAFOD’s partners across the region are ensuring that emergency supplies are in place. We have pledged an initial £50,000 to respond, and we are ready to add more financial help and practical support in the coming days.

For more information contact: CAFOD Westminster on 0208 449 6970 or Debbie Wainwright at CAFOD on: 020 7095 5457 or 07785 950 378.

Please donate to our Typhoon Haiyan appeal by visiting:


CAFOD and other DEC agencies are asking for monetary donations only, and we are not aware of any DEC agency having plans to collect tinned food and medical supplies. Anyone who would like to collect food and medical supplies please check with any agency first to see if this sort of collection would be useful.

Generally CAFOD isn’t equipped for accepting donations of food, medical supplies, or other material donations for a variety of reasons. In emergency situations, this is more often due to the additional logistical costs involved in collecting and shipping items to the affected areas, and also whether or not the items would also be useful in our response to the needs of the area. Effectively by donating you are providing food and medical supplies, as well as giving CAFOD the ability to be flexible in its response to the situation and not limiting it to any material goods collected.

Photo: REUTERS/Erik De Castro, courtesy of alertnet