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19-12-2013 | Latest News , Asia & Pacific

IFRC President Konoe sees solidarity in action in the Philippines


In an area of Tacloban, among the damaged buildings, small market stands and debris sitting along the side of the road, a group of Philippine Red Cross volunteers line up a hundred boxes labelled Palang Merah Indoensia, (PMI), in neat rows of four. Among the volunteers, Chairman Gordon of Philippine Red Cross and President Tadateru Konoé of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) stand with them, shoulder-to-shoulder. Within 10 minutes, the boxes are ready for distribution along with tarpaulins, jerry cans and dried food items.

"It is remarkable, how the Red Cross volunteers are everywhere. And they are not just doing the distributions. They provide valuable psychosocial support for children, hygiene classes, and health care," President Konoé said. "All done with strong Movement cooperation."

Members of the Indonesian Red Cross disaster management team are present at the distribution in Tacloban to support the Philippine Red Cross. In North Cebu, it is the Australian, French, Hong Kong and Japanese Red Cross staff helping to manage a health care centre. These moments of solidarity reflect the best of humanity - and the strength of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement - when it is needed most.

"We are very touched that the Red Cross did not forget us," said the principal of a school in the town of Maya, Northern Cebu. "Even though the impact was not as severe for us with Typhoon Haiyan as it was in other areas, this help is still very important for our community."

President Konoé and Chairman Gordon reassured communities through an interview with a local radio station in Tacloban that the Red Cross was planning a long-term response well beyond the initial relief effort. And not only for those affected by Haiyan, but other major disasters such as the earthquake in Bohol that struck on 15 October.

There president and chairman visited a temporary Red Cross hospital in Loon municipality, Bohol, where a group of new mothers were sitting together breastfeeding and resting on cots. With the main town hospital in Bohol still not functioning, the medical aid provided by the Red Cross is critical for the local community.

"The main hospital was severely damaged - a few people died inside during the earthquake and nurses were on duty for 48 hours straight after it happened," said a nurse. "Things are still not back to normal, but with this Red Cross hospital, two months after the earthquake it is going well."

The visit of President Konoé to the Philippines underlines the commitment and dedication that will remain in places such as Bohol, North Cebu and Tacloban. Together with the wider humanitarian community, and our Red Cross Red Crescent family, the President's presence alongside Chairman Gordon, reminds us that we have an obligation to ensure that communities emerge from this disaster stronger and more resilient to future threats, which will certainly pass through the Philippines again.

"When the world no longer watches, we do what must be done," said Gordon.

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