JDC, Israeli Teams Head To Phillipines


With the toll of destruction in the Phillipines soars, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and other organizations have begun collecting aid for the thousands whose lives were ruined by Typhoon Haiyan over the weekend.

Representatives of the JDC are also gearing up to assess the situation firsthand.

“Or team of disaster relief and development experts [will] assess damage, consult with local partners and the Jewish community, and see where our help will be most impactful, a JDC spokesman, Michel Geller, told The Jewish Week.

He also said JDC will ship a container of food, shelter, hygiene and medical supplies and will ensure the provision of water and sanitation items and shelter support through its partners the Afya Foundation and Catholic Relief Services.

At the same time, an Israeli force of relief workers is to assist with medical and other needs.

Arutz Sheva, citing an announcement from Israel’s Foreign Ministry said a search and rescue team experienced in searching damaged buildings and a medical team would be dispatched to the area.

The Israeli disaster relief organization IsraAid is also sending an emergency response team.

The nonprofit group’s team of medical professionals and trauma and relief specialists are scheduled to arrive in the Philippines Monday, working primarily in Tacloban City in Leyte. A larger team is expected to land by the end of the week, according to IsraAid.

Typhoon Haiyan, possibly the most severe storm in recorded history, battered the Phillipines with winds of up to 195 mph, leaving a trail of destruction in multiple provinces, forcing hundreds of thousands to evacuate and making travel by air and land to hard-hit provinces difficult. Around 10,000 people are feared dead, and at least half a million people have been left homeless.

“We immediately activated our network of global partners and will leverage our previous experience in the region to provide immediate, strategic relief to survivors in their time of need,” said Alan H. Gill, JDC’s chief executive officer.

“These efforts are especially poignant for us given the Philippines’s life-saving actions during the Second World War when the country offered safe haven to more than 1,000 Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazi onslaught. ”

B’nai B’rith announced Monday afternoon that it had opened its existing disaster relief fund to help victims of Haiyan.

“It’s hard to even imagine the widespread devastation they’re experiencing in the Philippines,” B’nai B’rith President Allan J. Jacobs said. “Each disaster has its own unique challenges and this one will truly be a giant undertaking. As one of the funders of IsraAID, we have made an allocation to support their emergency response team in addressing immediate needs. In addition, we will be evaluating longer term rebuilding efforts.”

The American Jewish World Service also launched a relief fund.

AJWS President Ruth Messinger told The Jewish Week Tuesday that the group was working to get aid in place as soon as possible. “We have staff who have lots of connections in the area and they have lined up about five or six groups contact with other groups to do ongoing work,” she said.

New York’s UJA Federation began collecting funds on its site Monday but said 100 percent of proceeds will be forwarded to JDC, which is a beneficiary agency.

The JDC already has contacts in the Philippines fromm working with an Israeli partner to fight cholera in 2009 and working to enhance emerging Jewish community life through the inclusion of the Filipino Jewish community members in pan-Asian Jewish events.

To make a Contribution go to www.jdc.org, or call 212-687-6200/

Checks, sent by mail, may be sent to JDC Typhoon Haiyan Relief, P.O. Box 4124. New York, NY 10163.

To donate to the American Jewish World Service fund, make checks payable to: American Jewish World Service, 5 West 36th Street, 11th floor New York, NY 10018-7904, or call 212.792.2900.

JTA contributed to this report.