11/15/2013, 00.00
PHILIPPINES
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Caritas Philippines: Typhoon Haiyan tragedy an opportunity to live "the spirit of the Gospel"

The Emergency Unit Coordinator points to gestures of solidarity by population. People affected by the earthquake of October offer aid and support to populations hit by Yolanda . Pope Francis closeness to people "made us proud to be Catholic". The cardinal of Manila calls for a day of fasting and prayer on November 16 .

Manila ( AsiaNews) - Typhoon Haiyan and other tragedies that hit the Philippines in the last four months, "could have suffocated the people's spirit" and "robbed them of their soul".   However, the "solidarity" and the "closeness of Pope Francis" were "fundamental: his attention, his words have made us proud to be Catholic , to fully enjoy the spirit of the Gospel",  Jospehine Ignacio , Coordinator of the emergency Unit of the National Secretariat of Justice and Peace of the Catholic Bishops' Conference ( CBCP - Nassa ) for the victims of Yolanda , as it was renamed the typhoon in the Philippines tells AsiaNews,. The head of Caritas is on the frontline in coordinating emergency operations and emphasizes the solidarity and closeness that has emerged over this past week among people, referring to it as "one of the most significant aspects of this whole tragedy."

Typhoon Haiyan destroyed a strip of land 600km long and claimed more than 2300 victims. The Philippine government is having to face the most devastating natural disaster in its history : the 3,422 deaths recorded (although UN figures of the last hours speak of at least 4,500 victims ) ; 3853 injured ; 11.5 million people affected; 545 thousand displaced persons; 240 thousand houses destroyed and 4.1 billion pesos ( 94.2 million U.S. dollars) of damage to infrastructure and agricultural crops.

People need "food and cooking utensils" says Jospehine Ignacio, because "the typhoon swept away everything." Then they also need "shelter and drinking water, because there is nothing left ." The head of Caritas says that " it is difficult to find an area of the country that in these last four months has not been hit by a tragedy," in a nation that has experienced the passage of three typhoons and a devastating earthquake. However , she continues, " from nearby Bohol [ epicenter of the earthquake last October , ed] they are sending aid , goods and basic necessities for the areas affected by the typhoon".

The Emergency Unit Coordinator adds that "there are 11 different dioceses and provinces engaged in the collection and distribution of aid." The Church "is doing great "at the diocesan and parish level, the demonstrations of solidarity" are many and this is one of the most significant". As for the number of victims, however, the activist calls for caution "because it is difficult to have a clear picture of the situation." The government data, he concludes, is based on bodies actually recovered, but "there are still many dead bodies under the rubble. The number is certainly higher than 2,500 reported today [at first there was talk of only 10 thousand victims in Tacloban, ed], but it will take time to get an accurate idea of the scale of the tragedy . "

Meanwhile, the archbishop of Manila , Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle , has called for a day of prayer and fasting in solidarity with the victims of the typhoon. In a letter sent to the diocesan clergy, religious and the community of the faithful, the cardinal has asked everyone to spend the whole day tomorrow in penance , meditation and fasting. The initiative, called " Day of Tears and Hope : solidarity through prayer ," expresses the sense of communion and solidarity that has emerged these days among the people of the Philippines .

The same Card Tagle will lead a prayer and the hour of adoration at 8 pm , at the parish of San Fernando de Dilao in Manila. "We are one - the cardinal pointed out - with our brothers and sisters who are suffering. You are not, and will never be alone". The Archbishop of the Philippine capital again appealed for renewed commitment to raising funds and donations of goods and items for the displaced , in an attempt to alleviate the suffering of victims of Haiyan / Yolanda . In the midst of disasters and tragedies, each of us ought to think less of ourselves, says the cardinal, and more of "comforting and embracing their neighbors ." ( DS )

 

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