Even Volunteers In Philippines Need Help: 'Everybody Was Equally Hit'

Nov 17, 2013
Originally published on November 17, 2013 6:10 pm
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It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR West. I'm Arun Rath.

In the Philippines, thousands are dead and nearly two million displaced by Typhoon Haiyan. Life for the survivors living in the open is desperate, although some aid is now available.

David Gazashvili is deputy emergency director for the food aid organization CARE. We reached him by phone in the city of Cebu. He said a week after the typhoon, many roads around the major cities have been repaired, but it is still difficult to get supplies to the hardest hit parts of the country.

DAVID GAZASHVILI: The main challenge is getting the food to the island. We have also been able to get some food luckily and provided assistance to some 1,000 people affected by the typhoon. Those are people who are part of the (unintelligible). These are volunteers for the (unintelligible). They have been very much affected as well. They have been helping others, but they need help as much as everybody else.

RATH: So even the volunteers need help.

GAZASHVILI: Everybody. Everybody was equally hit here. Roads are - most of the buildings have been - have gone, and many buildings have sustained structural damages as well. So everybody, including the mayor and the government officials, everybody is equally affected.

RATH: Are there security concerns for your volunteers who are distributing food aid?

GAZASHVILI: No. There were some security concerns initially, and it's very much understandable because people have lost most of their assets and belongings, and they have families and children to feed, but they have not been significant. We see that the normalcy comes back to life. People walk around, people were - cities very busy, and we have not heard of any (unintelligible) incidents.

RATH: Clearly, the crisis will be going on for some time. How do you see the response changing over the coming days or weeks?

GAZASHVILI: Most of the relief (unintelligible) on its way and have not reached the affected population. So once the large amount of relief reaches the affected population, I think it will be much easier. The other thing is that right now, we are focusing on food supplies. But soon, we will start providing shelter support. We'll be providing tarpaulin and other shelter items as well as some additional household items that has been lost by the population.

RATH: David, thank you very much.

GAZASHVILI: Thank you very much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.