12/27/2012, 00.00
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Mindanao: Catholics dedicate Christmas to typhoon victims

The archbishop of Cagayan de Oro talks about solidarity in his diocese towards the victims of typhoons Washi and Bopha. Hundreds of packages with food and basic items are prepared for flood victims. Donations are collected during midnight Mass. In the provinces of Compostela Valley and Davao, rescue operations are still underway to find 800 missing people.

Cagayan de Oro (AsiaNews) - The Diocese of Cagayan de Oro (Mindanao) has provided 250 packages with food and basic items to hundreds of families affected by typhoons Washi and Bopha. Groups of volunteers and psychologists have also been dispatched to help residents in northern and south-eastern Mindanao hit a year ago and last month.  

"This is out gift to people who are suffering," said Mgr Antonio Ledesma, archbishop of Cagayan de Oro. "The birth of Jesus is a sign of hope for our Church and our communities affected by flooding."

At Midnight Mass, worshippers contributed individually to the affected communities, the prelate said. "Those who were spared the typhoon gave what they had to help those who lost everything," he explained.

In the case of typhoon Sendong of December 2011, only half of the people affected by found a home and employment, Mgr Ledesma noted, this despite the efforts by Caritas and other international organisations.

In Cagayan de Oro Province (northern Mindanao), more than 1,500 people died from flooding. Hundreds of families are still languishing in the rescue centres in need of aid from the United Nations and Caritas.

The situation is even more dramatic in the south-eastern part of the island, which was devastated by typhoon Bopha earlier this month, especially in the provinces of Davao and Compostela Valley.

With winds blowing at more than 200 kilometres per hour, entire villages were wiped out under landslides and mud.

The death toll now stands at more than a thousand dead and 80 missing.

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