You know that when you can see the enormity of the typhoon from space, as in the picture above, the pictures on he ground will be horrific. I’ve decided not to put images of the aftermath here as it is not necessary to make my point. Numbers and facts do that alone in this case, and they are pieces of information that contain millions of individual lives behind them.
11 million people have been affected by the storm with the tragic loss of 1,774 lives so far. There are another two and a half thousand wounded and nearly one hundred missing, feared dead. These are numbers that we can’t really comprehend. We can almost visualise a handful but these numbers are colossal and difficult for us to process. The city of Tacloban is about the size of Aberdeen and it has been hugely damaged with little left behind after the typhoon.
Rather than write about this from the comfort of my office, the BBC’s correspondent Jonathan Head puts it best in his report:
“So where is the aid? That was the question on everyone’s lips in the district of Pawing, outside Tacloban.
“Nearly every house has either been flattened or left without roofs or windows. People are living amid the sodden debris that was once their homes. They are wet, hungry, and increasingly angry. I watched them making the long trek into Tacloban in search of food, and returning empty-handed. One long queue outside a food warehouse quickly broke down into a free-for-all, people grabbing whatever they could.
The local government was pretty much wiped out by the typhoon. That’s why the central government has taken over the running of Tacloban. But it is almost invisible. Without power or phone communications, people have no idea whether anything is being done for them. The airport, while badly battered, is functioning. Planes come and go, several every hour. But they are not bringing much in, only taking people out. The Philippine army and police are very visible there, much less so in the rest of the city.
By day five of a disaster like this, you would expect to see some preparations for a scaled-up aid programme at the airport. There are still very few signs of that here.
Instead, there are still corpses, lying uncollected, at the end of the runway.”
You look at the images on our TVs and feel useless – but you are wrong. Governments from around the world are doing their bit sending help in any way they can from money to aid, medicine to food and clean water. The UN have already helped by releasing $25 million, but they estimate it will require almost twelve times that amount to really provide some lasting support.
So how can you help?
You can text “UNICEF” to 70123 to donate £3 right now, or if you want to make a larger donation go to http://www.dec.org.uk/ to help.
We’re all skint just now, but if everyone spares a couple of quid it will make a huge difference. Around one hundred people read this blog each day so if we all text once we will have made a contribution to help these poor people to start putting their lives back together.