ABU DHABI // The UAE has announced support and assistance programmes and projects worth Dh37 million for Philippine typhoon victims on the directive of the President, Sheikh Khalifa.
“The UAE extends its deepest sympathies for the loss of life and property,” the Government said.
“The UAE stands by the people of the Philippines in these tragic circumstances and commends the Government of the Philippines and its emergency workers for making all possible efforts in providing aid and relief to the victims.
“The UAE believes that the international community must stand together in times like these and assist the relief efforts. With this contribution, the UAE Government affirms its deep solidarity with those affected by this natural disaster in the Philippines. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this terrible tragedy and their families.”
Sheikh Khalifa also sent his personal condolences to the Philippine president, Benigno Aquino, expressing his profound sorrow to the president and the people of the Philippines, and wishing a speedy recovery to the injured.
Filipinos in the UAE have also stepped up relief efforts. Bayanihan UAE, which represents 57 Filipino community groups in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, sent an initial Dh10,000 to the Philippine Red Cross on Sunday.
“We cannot afford to wait,” said Ernesto Refugio, the Bayanihan UAE president. “We have the funds so it’s best to send the money right away.”
Mr Refugio was meeting the executive committee members on Sunday night to plan a fundraiser.
“We’re appealing to the community to pray for the victims and help us raise funds,” he said. “We will be accepting cash donations which we plan to remit by November 16.”
Relief goods are also welcome, but cash donations are a priority at the moment, he said.
"We've organised fundraisers in support of the victims of disasters and calamities for so many years," said Mr Refugio, who has lived in Abu Dhabi for 20 years. "But this super typhoon is probably the worst of its kind in history."
He said his wife, who is originally from Antique, has called her sisters, nieces and nephews almost every hour since Friday. The northern part of Antique was also struck by the typhoon.
“We’re really glad they’re OK,” Mr Refugio said. “But our compatriots are suffering from the widespread devastation and loss of lives.”
In Dubai, a fundraising brunch is planned for Friday. More than 500 people are expected to attend the event, which will be held at the Philippine consulate and the Philippine Overseas Labour Office, both in Al Ghusais.
“It’s so heart-warming to know that other nationalities are also willing to help our compatriots back home,” said Matilyn Bagunu, the president of Filcom, which represents Filipino community groups in Dubai and the Northern Emirates.
Filcom will accept cash donations and relief goods at the venue.
“Some will be attending the event just to hand over their donations,” she said. “We really need all the help we can get.”
There are 700,000 Filipinos in the UAE. Sixty per cent are classified as professional, 25 per cent semi-skilled and 15 per cent unskilled.
People who wish to donate clothes, canned foods and cash to aid the victims of the typhoon in the Philippines have multiple avenues to choose from.
The most direct means is to the Philippine Red Cross, one of the key players in the relief effort. Donations can be either via paypal or bank transfer. For more information visit: http://www.redcross.org.ph/donate
Alternatively, they can participate in local activities to raise awareness and donations.
The largest local effort will be the ‘brunch for a cause’, at the Philippine Consulate-General in Dubai from 11am to 4pm on Friday.
The entry fee for the brunch will be Dh50, and the money will be donated toward the relief effort. Those who want to donate canned foods, blankets and basic medicines can do so on the day.
In addition, the Philippine courier company LBC is accepting donated goods at its branches in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi. It will ship the donated goods free of charge after November 15.
St Mary’s Catholic Church will accept cash donations from parishioners after Friday mass, which will be passed on to the Philippine Red Cross.
* Additional reporting by Martin Croucher