CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 18 November 2017

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Don’t forget the earthquake victims

MANILA (SE): While news of the siege of the only majority Muslim city in Mindanao by the Maute group and the pros and cons of martial law have dominated international discussions on Philippine affairs, the suffering of people hit by other catastrophes still needs attention.
 
Over 500 families are now living in tents around Cormac City after a 6.5 magnitude earthquake shook Leyte province at around 6.30am on July 6, leaving four people dead and around 100 injured, as well as over 1,000 homes damaged, many seriously, leaving them in a dangerous condition and at least temporarily uninhabitable.
 
The condition of those who have lost their homes has been made more uncomfortable by steady rain, which has been falling in the area, and on the morning of July 10, was followed up by a 5.6 magnitude aftershock, the strongest one yet.
 
Photographs show blue emergency tents pitched in soggy ground, where people have little protection against mosquitoes and damp, with little opportunity to dry clothes or protect themselves against disease.
 
The director of Caritas in Palo, Father Al Cris Badana, told CBCP News that the rain is the big bugbear at present. It has increased the need for hygiene kits and also blankets, as the low lying land where the refugee camps have been set is subject to flash flooding, drenching all clothing, blankets and towels.
 
“That’s the problem especially for those families with infants because they are exposed to cold temperatures,” Father Badana said. “So they’re really in a difficult situation.”
 
He added that there is a shortage of food in the area, as well as tents for temporary accommodation and people with the skills, as well as the materials to repair those that have been damaged.
 
Medical assistance is also needed, as the conditions in the camps are a serious health risk for children.
 
Father Badana added that psycho-social intervention is also needed for the victims, especially the children.
 
He is appealing to the media to give attention to the cause, which he believes has been largely overlooked with the crisis in Marawi and the problems being caused by martial law in the Mindanao region.

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