Caritas in the forefront of earthquake relief
Nassa and Caritas Philippines are coordinating the emergency response in collaboration with the leaders of the two dioceses most affected by the earthquake, Talibon and Bohol.
The National Secretariat for Justice and Peace Commission of the Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP-Nassa) is in the forefront of the relief operations for the victims of last week’s earthquake.
"We have launched an appeal for assistance among our Caritas partners, but it must be done immediately. Among immediate needs are food for people in evacuation centres," said Father Edwin A. Gariguez, Nassa executive secretary and responsible for the coordination of relief operations at the Catholic institution.
Nassa and Caritas Philippines are coordinating the emergency response in collaboration with the leaders of the two dioceses most affected by the earthquake, Talibon and Bohol. So far they have used local funds but they are no longer sufficient. Nassa has allocated 400,000 pesos. Various dioceses in the country, including the Archdiocese of Manila, are contributing to relief assistance.
Within hours of the main quake, there were 725 aftershocks in Cebu, Negros Orental, Davao, Cotabato and north of Mindanao. 158 were killed; 23 are still missing, while the number of injured is around 300. The people affected by the earthquake are more than three million, spread among 39 cities and municipalities. 5,992 families are housed in 51 refugee centres, and a first estimate of damage to infrastructure, hospitals, houses and sites of archaeological interest amount to a total of 75.2 million pesos (1.8 million dollars).
In many areas, particularly in Bohol, there are power outages and the supply of drinking water has been suspended. The governor of Bohol province has declared a state of calamity. Food supplies are dwindling and many markets are closed due to lack of supplies. The Caritas workers also warned of the urgent need for psychologists and trauma experts.
The government has allocated the army and police to help in the rescue operations and the immediate action pending long-term programmes for the restoration of normal activities. Manila has not yet appealed to the international community for foreign aid, wanting to deal with the disaster on its own.