After the typhoon in the Philippines: Aid for those who need it most

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Last month tropical storm Washi forced Joshua (10) to leave his home and to seek shelter in an evacuation center at the local school. Being disabled, Joshua struggles even more than the other refugees. To ensure his safety and alleviate his health concerns, Handicap International has replaced his old big wheelchair with a new one.

On Friday 16th December 2011, typhoon Washi, locally known as Sedong, brought 10 hours of torrential rains that triggered disastrous flash flooding over Mindanao – in the South of the Philippines - an area where tropical cyclones are not common. Just overnight, almost a thousand people were killed. According to the United Nations, more than 50,000 houses were damaged and livelihoods of some 1.1 million people were affected. One month on, 26,000 survivors remain in largely overcrowded evacuation centres in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan. Another 200,000 people are seeking refuge in makeshift shelters and with host families in their areas of origin.

Present in the Philippines for over 20 years, Handicap International was able to establish rapid response procedures that were activated after the disaster." The problem is that those who are physically weak can hardly go to evacuation centres and access humanitarian aid. It's paradoxical, but it is often those who need it the most who struggle to receive assistance", explains Catherine Vasseur, head of Handicap International operations in the country.

Therefore Handicap International tries to target those most vulnerable people, including persons with disabilities and those most susceptible due to isolation, age, gender, or social status. Through its participation to the international humanitarian response Handicap International intends to ensure that aid actually reaches those who need it most, people like Joshua, Terry, Thrisha and Angel. Handicap International offered those four disabled survivors of Washi wheelchairs or canes in order to facilitate the reconstruction of their lives.