Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Typhoon safety fears for women

Fears have been raised for thousands of women left "painfully vulnerable" in the typhoon-struck Philippines a s Britons raised £13 million for emergency aid in just 24 hours.

The Philippines Typhoon Appeal - made up of online, text and phone donations - raised the cash, which will go directly to help more than 11 million people affected by Typhoon Haiyan, the Disasters Emergency Committee ( DEC) has said.

Hundreds of thousands of people have had their homes damaged or destroyed and are in desperate need of food, water and shelter - and concern has been raised specifically about the plight of women and girls.

International Development Secretary Justine Greening said females will be "subject to further abuse" following the disaster if they are not given help.

Ms Greening announced £21.6 million in new funding to help protect women in emergencies but none of that sum is allocated to the Philippines.

The funding will support women in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia.

In a speech at Lancaster House in central London, Ms Greening said past emergencies in the Philippines have led to a sharp rise in violence against girls and women, and in trafficking in particular.

"Now thousands more girls and women have been left painfully vulnerable in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.

"Some have lost everything - their homes, their friends, even their families.

"Without our help, they will be subject to further abuse," she said.

Ms Greening said after her speech that while none of the £21.6 million funding will go to the Philippines, the Government has insisted that agencies there assess the risks to women.

"With all of our contributions to date to the Philippines, we've insisted that all the agencies we're working with look at and assess the risks of violence against women on the ground in the Philippines.

"We'll be looking today with all the donors after this event about how we can coordinate our work better in the Philippines to reduce the risk of violence against women," she said.

Ms Greening said she knew from recent crises in the Philippines that the numbers of women suffering violence "really significantly increased" and it is a "real risk".

Tanya Barron, chief executive of Plan UK, was at the event today and said: "We've worked in the Philippines for 50 years and our staff there are telling us this is the worst disaster they've ever experienced."

Meanwhile, DEC chief executive Saleh Saeed said the initial public response to the appeal had been overwhelming.

''People have given so generously in such a short space of time,'' he said.

Mr Saeed said much of the donated money will go towards paying for work by emergency teams on the ground to provide basic essentials.

The £13 million total does not include the Government's pledge to match donations pound for pound up to £5 million, he said.

Ms Greening agreed with the DEC that the first £5 million donated by members of the public to the appeal will be matched by the Government.

The Government has already committed £10 million in aid, so the additional £5 million commitment will increase the UK's support to £15 million in total.

A chartered Boeing 777 carrying 8,836 shelter kits from UK Government stores in Dubai landed in the city of Cebu and was met by Department for International Development (DfID) humanitarian workers.

The shelter kits each consist of plastic sheeting, rope and rope tensioners to keep a family of five sheltered from the elements.

They will be delivered to charity World Vision for distribution in the worst-affected areas.

It is the first of several UK-funded humanitarian flights scheduled to fly from Dubai and the UK in the coming days as part of the UK's response to the disaster, a DfID spokesman said.

Prime Minister David Cameron described the scenes of devastation caused by the powerful storm as "heartbreaking''.

And the Queen has sent a message expressing her "heartfelt condolences'' to those affected.

She has made a personal donation to the appeal to help those affected by the devastating typhoon, said to be the strongest ever to make landfall.

With desperation for food and supplies increasing, thousands of people stormed a rice warehouse on an island devastated by the typhoon, resulting in eight people being crushed to death.

The damaged infrastructure and bad communications links have made a conclusive death toll difficult to estimate.

The official toll from a national disaster agency rose to 2,275 this morning. President Benigno Aquino III told CNN that the toll could be closer to 2,000 or 2,500 - lower than an earlier estimate from two officials on the ground who said they feared as many as 10,000 might be dead.

The Salvation Army UK and Ireland has launched its own disaster appeal and a team from the Salvation Army in the Philippines, which has 79 churches (or corps) in the country, is making arrangements with the Philippine Air Force to transport food parcels, water and medical supplies to the stricken city of Tacloban.

The charity said the worst-hit areas are impossible to reach by road, and many communities have no means of making contact with the rest of the country, making it difficult to build a clear picture of exactly where the need is greatest.


From Belfast Telegraph