Emergency aid sent to Philippines

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The Norwegian government, the Norwegian Red Cross, Caritas Norge and a long list of other humanitarian organizations were already increasing emergency aid to the Philippines on Monday, as the death toll from a killer typhoon continued to rise.  Worried members of Norway’s large Filipino community gathered in local churches on Sunday, and were mounting aid efforts of their own as well.

As many as 20,000 Filipinos live in Norway, and the two countries have long ties through shipping and trade. “We have a moral obligation to help the typhoon victims,” Foreign Minister Børge Brende told news bureau NTB on the phone from New Delhi, where he was attending a meeting of European and Asian foreign ministers.

Aid amounts likely to grow
Prime Minister Erna Solberg quickly announced NOK 20 million in immediate aid to the Philippines over the weekend, when the enormous scope of the typhoon tragedy first became known. That’s almost as much as the European Union’s initial aid offer of around NOK 25 million, and Solberg promised more aid would be made available.

“We’re following the situation very closely,” Brende told NTB. “There’s huge sympathy and concern here.” The typhoon was being described as one of the worst the world has ever seen, destroying entire cities and communities and leaving their residents without shelter, food, water or communications. The death toll quickly rose to more than 12,000 already by Sunday morning, with the number of fatalities expected to keep rising.

TO MAKE DONATIONS:
Norwegian Red Cross:
Account #8200-06-10190, SMS: Send “HJELP” to 2272, or call donor telephone #820-44-000
Caritas Norge: Account #8200-01-93433, mark donations “Tyfon Filippinene”
Redd Barna (Save the Children): Account #8200-01-03000, Donor phone #820-44-144
UNICEF: Account #1644-04-09400, SMS: Send “BARN” to 2160, or call donor phone 820-44-705
CARE: Account #1644-10-50082

The Norwegian Red Cross was sending experts in providing fresh water and sanitation, as aid efforts also mounted around the world, but the biggest problem was simply getting the aid to survivors. Communications and transport systems remained in shambles Monday, and the Red Cross in Norway was waiting with shipments of mobile hospital units and other emergency supplies until accessibility questions were answered.

Missing person inquiries
Norway’s foreign ministry was also receiving reports of missing persons in the Philippines, both Norwegians in the area and relatives of Filipino-Norwegians in Norway. Knut Lydersen of Sandefjord couldn’t get in touch with his wife and daughter who were working in an orphanage in the devastated city of Tacloban when the typhoon hit. Scores of other anxious families from the Philippines were also unable to reach relatives, and staff at the Norwegian Embassy in Manila were scrambling to respond to inquiries.

Nursing student May Borbon in Oslo told newspaper Aftenposten she hadn’t slept for three days, as she tried to make contact with her family on the island of Panay, which was hit hard by the typhoon. Her church group was among the many in Oslo serving as a support network, while St Olavs Catholic Church in Oslo was packed for masses in English and Tagalog on Sunday.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund