Bangkok, 14 November 2013 – In the face of the enormous destruction and displacement wrought by typhoon Haiyan, the Jesuit Refugee Service has decided the most practical immediate response is to provide logistical support to Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan, a local Jesuit-led organisation.
Haiyan, known locally as Yolanda, left an approximate 2,500 people dead in its wake and laid waste to entire cities and towns. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has reported that more than 11 million have been affected by the crisis, some 140,000 houses damaged and major infrastructures devastated. Low-lying cities and poor neighbourhoods were the most at risk.
The goal of the JRS support is to help Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan respond to the crisis as effectively as possible. Both programme and field staff are being sent to the Philippines. Experienced programme staff are needed to undertake needs assessments, write project proposals and actions plans, as well as provide reports to donors, ensuring the resources are used as efficiently as possible. Field staff skilled in meeting the challenges during crises will also be made available to local Jesuits.
“The country still reels from the Zamboanga City siege and the earthquake that struck Bohol and Cebu a few weeks ago. Evacuees in those afflicted regions are still homeless, and yet now new cries arise from people suffering in other calamity-stricken areas”, said the Jesuit Provincial of the Philippines, Antonio Moreno SJ.
In view of present and long-term consequences, Fr Moreno has urged the Jesuits to mobilise resources to assist people in the most-affected areas. He also had already asked the Jesuits to simplify any Christmas or other celebrations over the coming months in solidarity with victims and to give attention to the needed long-term recovery.
Thirty-three years of JRS. The latest plea for those forced from their homes comes on the thirty-third anniversary of the establishment of the Jesuit Refugee Service, following a visit by the then Superior General, Pedro Arrupe SJ, to Thailand.
On this day, JRS celebrates the resilience of refugees from whom teams learn and draw strength. The celebrations are marked with humility as staff grapple with solutions in confronting forced displacement in challenging fronts and complex forms.
The mission of JRS is as relevant now as it was when Fr Arrupe first invoked it. The experience of displacement in Asia Pacific is one which binds all the countries of the region together. Burma has been a major producer of refugees, while Thailand has provided them shelter for many decades. Malaysia and Indonesia are major transit countries and Australia remains the preferred destination in the region.
It is, therefore, unfortunate to note how each country tries to deal with the problem as its own despite the increasing clamour for stronger regional solutions. In another front, the issue of climate displacement in the Pacific islands offers complex challenges that require creative solutions and generous hospitality among countries.
Support local Philippine relief efforts. Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan (SLB) through its Director, Fr Xavier C Alpasa SJ, is coordinating all Jesuit efforts to assist victims of Yolanda.
- In the US: through our Merrill Lynch Bank (Account # 176-04A01), addressed to The Philippine Jesuit Foundation, 39 East 83rd Street, New York, NY 10028.
- From the rest of the world: Funds will be transferred through its bank (BPI [Loyola-Katipunan Branch], Peso Checking Account # 3081-111-61, Dollar Account # 3084-0420-12, Swift Code: BOPIPMM, Routing #: 021-000-21).
- In the US: Fr Victor Salanga SJ, The Philippine Jesuit Foundation (PJF), 39 East 83rd Street, New York, NY 10028. Please indicate in the memo “Yolanda Calamity Fund” to avail of the free service fee. PJF donors can also earn tax credit for every donation made. Tel: +1 646 370 1526
- In the Philippines: Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan, Loyola House of Studies, Ateneo de Manila University Campus, Loyola Heights, 1108 Quezon City. Tel: +63 2 926-5974; +63 2 926-9831; fax: +63 2 926 8150
- In Australia: Jesuit Mission Australia. Donations can be made by telephone, fax or post. Tel: +61 29 955 8585.