The Catholic Church in the Philippines is collecting funds to aid communities affected by the typhoon that battered the southern Mindanao region last weekend. The National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA) or Caritas Philippines, the humanitarian, development and advocacy arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is hoping to collect 5.8 million pesos (about €97,000) for relief works.
One of the deadliest storms to hit the Philippines this year, typhoon Vinta (international name Tembin) left at least 164 people dead and 171 missing in landslides and flash floods in the provinces of Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur and on the Zamboanga Peninsula. According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, more than 97,000 people remained in 261 evacuation centers across the southern Philippines on Monday, while nearly 85,000 others were displaced and staying elsewhere.
"The emergency caused by typhoon Vinta is worsened by the fact the population already suffer from the devastation produced by the siege of Marawi,” Rey Henderson, head of communications and development of NASSA/Caritas told AsiaNews. He said most of the affected families have already been displaced by the fighting between government forces and Islamist militia in the city of Marawi.
Henderson said Nassa/Caritas Philippines is appealing for an initial figure of 5.8 million pesos, in order to respond urgently to the need for food rations, hygiene kits, blankets and emergency supplies. In the meantime, aid for the Marawi crisis is underway with the provision of drinking water and warm clothes, vital to these families.
Henderson said they are urging support for the campaign to raise additional funds for relief efforts and first aid targeting up to 3,000 families, or 15,000 individuals, in the southern provinces of Compostela Valley, Davao del Norte, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur and Misamis Oriental.
Pope Francis on Sunday remembered the victims of typhoon Vinta and invited prayers for them. "I wish to assure my prayer to the population of the island of Mindanao, in the Philippines, hit by a storm that has caused numerous victims and destruction,” the Pope said after he prayed the midday “Angelus” with a large crowd in St. Peter’s Square in Rome on Christmas eve. “May God the merciful welcome the souls of the dead and comfort those who suffer from this calamity," the Holy Father prayed.
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, the Archbishop of Manila has urged Catholics to help the victims of the recent storms Urduja and Vinta, that have swept the archipelago of the Visayas and the island of Mindanao. He said Caritas Manila is accepting donations, which will go to the affected churches and dioceses in Visayas and Mindanao. “Christmas means helping each other, just as Jesus did ", Card. Tagle said.