Typhoon Haiyan

Typhoon Haiyan – known locally as Yolanda – swept across the Philippines on Friday with winds of up to 235 kph, leaving a trail of massive destruction in its wake.

With power still down in many areas, the full extent of the damage is not yet known, but officials in the Philippines have estimated that 10,000 people were killed in one province alone.

The typhoon was one of the strongest ever to make landfall, flattening thousands of houses, and destroying schools and an airport in the eastern city of Tacloban.

Matthew Carter, Head of CAFOD’s Humanitarian Department, said: “Power lines, phone lines and mobile towers have all been damaged, making communication very difficult – but it’s clear that the typhoon has had a catastrophic impact.

Our local partners are on the ground in the worst hit areas, responding to the most immediate needs.

Katja Jewell, manager for CAFOD in North Wales 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.”

Our partners across the region are ensuring that emergency supplies are in place. We have pledged an initial £50,000 to respond.

CAFOD has worked in the Philippines since 1969. We have recently responded to several emergencies in the country, including Tropical Storm Washi in 2011, Typhoon Bopha in 2012 and the earthquake that hit Bohol island last month.

Please donate to our Typhoon Haiyan appeal>>

Please pray for all those affected>>

Syria appeal breaks £1 million

Syria Appeal

Catholics in North Wales have contributed to more than £1 million raised by Catholic aid agency, CAFOD, for Syria.

Parish groups, schools and individuals around England and Wales have responded with huge generosity and compassion to raise more than £1,000,000 in response to CAFOD’s Syria Crisis appeal, the vast majority of it in just four weeks.

Katja Jewell, CAFOD’s manager for the North Wales said: “It’s a brilliant effort. Thank you to everyone for their continued generosity.”

More than 5.5 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian aid in Syria, while at least 1.2 million people have fled into neighbouring countries. In Lebanon, a team from Caritas Lebanon, CAFOD’s local partner, visits newly arrived refugees and makes sure they have somewhere to stay. They also provide food, like rice, pasta, cheese, beans and sugar, as well as hygiene kits with soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes, and towels and nappies for babies.

CAFOD is also one of only a handful of UK aid agencies that is able to work in Syria itself. For more than a year, CAFOD has helped Church partners inside the country to provide food, shelter and medical supplies. The generosity of donations to the Syria Crisis appeal means that CAFOD can rapidly scale up this work.

Mike Noyes, CAFOD’s Head of Humanitarian Programmes, said:

I’ve just returned from Lebanon, where I met people who’d lost their homes, their possessions and their loved ones because of the war in Syria. Many of them arrived in Lebanon with nothing more than the clothes on their back.

“It’s thanks to the immense generosity and solidarity of our Catholic community that we can fund this crucial work in Lebanon and in Syria itself, as well as supporting programmes helping refugees in Jordan and Turkey with food, relief supplies, cold weather clothing and shelter materials.

To donate to CAFOD’s Syria crisis Appeal or for more information, please visit; www.cafod.org.uk/Give/Donate-to-Emergencies/Syria-Crisis-appeal

Syria Appeal

The Syria crisis: two years of suffering         

Mike Noyes is CAFOD’s Head of Humanitarian Programmes for Latin America, Asia and the Middle East

It is now two years since the outbreak of conflict in Syria. For a long time, the violence was relatively limited in its impact, with localised fighting and disturbances and with most of the victims being actively engaged in the fighting. The bombardment of Homs in February 2012 marked a change in the nature of the conflict. There was indiscriminate shelling of civilian neighbourhoods, and ordinary communities became targets in their own right. From there, the situation has deteriorated to the humanitarian emergency we see today.

Right now, we are facing a crisis as big as the one in Haiti after the earthquake. Millions of people have been uprooted from their homes by the fighting, and many are struggling to survive. Food supplies have been cut off: the United Nations says that 2.5 million people in Syria are in urgent need of food aid. In some areas, the price of bread has tripled. In other areas, food, fuel and basic supplies are simply not available.

Millions of people who have been forced from their homes need help finding shelter: with the economy in tatters, many families have nowhere to stay and can’t afford to pay rent or for heating.

Meanwhile, an estimated 7,000 refugees are streaming across the borders into neighbouring countries every day, preferring the uncertainty of a refugee camp in a foreign country to the certainty of devastated towns and villages and the risks of being caught in crossfire.

The people of Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan have shown great compassion in welcoming these refugees into their towns and their homes, but the sheer number of new arrivals is putting an enormous strain on already overstretched resources.

For more than a year, we’ve been working with local Church partners in Syria to provide food, clothes and relief supplies. I can’t tell you as much as I’d like to about the projects we’re supporting, because, in many cases, the priests and volunteer aid workers on the ground are risking their lives to deliver aid across the battle lines. Drawing too much attention to their work could put them in even greater danger.

What I can tell you is that the extensive community networks of the Church, even as a minority faith, mean that it is uniquely placed to provide aid in some of the worst hit and most inaccessible areas of the country.

We are also working in Lebanon and Turkey, where our sister agencies in the Caritas network – a coalition of Catholic aid agencies around the world – are ensuring that refugees have food, shelter and relief supplies, and that vulnerable children are well looked after.

Sadly, there is no sign of the war in Syria coming to an end. But with your support, we can scale up our work in Syria, as well as in neighbouring countries like Lebanon and Turkey, and help many more people in extreme need.

Please donate to our Syria crisis appeal:

www.cafod.org.uk/syriacrisis

We ask also for your continued prayers, and can download a prayer card here:

Syria Prayer