HI sends emergency team to typhoon-hit areas

Damages in Eastern Samar province. The south coast of Samar and Eastern Samar provinces had been severely hit by Haiyan Typhoon. © 2013 Brice Blondel / Handicap International

Damages in Eastern Samar province. The south coast of Samar and Eastern Samar provinces had been severely hit by Haiyan Typhoon. Photo: Brice Blondel / Handicap International

Handicap International is today (November 11) sending a team of emergency specialists to the Philippines in response to the disaster now gripping the country. They will complement the work already being done by the organisation’s teams in the field. The specialists will case-manage the most vulnerable individuals, such as people with disabilities, older people and children, who are particularly at risk in this type of situation.

Handicap International’s team in the Philippines is ready to travel to the areas worst affected by the typhoon to assess needs on the ground; a team of three humanitarian emergency specialists is leaving France today to join them.

“Like most other NGOs, we have unfortunately not yet been able to visit the worst affected areas,” explains Edith van Wijngaarden, Handicap International’s Field Programme Director in the Philippines. “Three days after the disaster, only military flights are landing in Tacloban, a town in the centre of the country, and one of the worst hit by the storm. However, it’s important that Handicap International’s emergency team accesses the area as soon as possible to make sure highly vulnerable individuals are not left behind.”

Under these kinds of circumstances, people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups are at even greater risk than before. As part of its emergency response, the organisation will identify vulnerable individuals, help them access humanitarian aid, meet their specific needs (crutches, wheelchairs, etc.) and help provide rehabiliation care for people with disabilities and the injured.

Present in the Philippines since 1985, Handicap International operates development and risk reduction programmes in several areas of the country. The contingency plans and evacuation procedures implemented as part of risk reduction operations help alleviate the impact of natural disasters. Handicap International has deployed emergency teams during previous hurricanes in the Philippines and benefits from extensive experience in the field.