Thursday, November 14, 2013

Guiuan town's plight in the headlines in Denmark

Danish newspaper Politiken has the Philippines in its headlines today – not Tacloban, Leyte, which has gained a lot of media coverage the last six days, but Guiuan, a fishing town in the neighboring province of Eastern Samar.  
My translation of the front page article:

Guiuan waits desperately for help (Politiken, November 14, 2013, Denmark)
Kim Rathcke Jensen, correspondent, Guiuan
Peter Hove Olesen, photo
IT LOOKS like a tropical paradise on a perfect day. The sky is blue. So is the ocean. And down below in the rolling water lies Guiuan, with white beaches and palm trees.
But it is not paradise.
"Can you smell that," the pilot asks, as he swings the little propeller plane in over the landing strip.
Already, at several hundred meters above the ground, the sweet reek of dead bodies. People and animals.
Guiuan is a town of 50,000 inhabitants on the Philippine island Samar. It was the first to get hit when typhoon Haiyan made landfall on Friday. But it is the last to get emergency aid.
The situation is the same as in hard-hit Tacloban, but maybe worse. Everything is ruined. The town, neighboring towns, the entire surrounding area are flattened. People in the hundreds are dead.
"All attention is on Tacloban," says Henry M. Afable, mayor of Guiuan's neighboring municipality Maydolong.

Therefore only a few deliveries of government aid have arrived, and international organizations such as the Red Cross have yet to come forward.

"We need food. Medicine. Shelter. We have too little. Our supplies are nearly depleted," says Henry M. Afable.
Politiken is one of the first Western media outfits to reach the town. Everywhere, inhabitants are desperate. Many have lost everything.

37-year-old Raquel Husun lived by the seashore in Guiuan with her husband and five children. Today the house is gone. Just the floor and a wall remain. They have stretched a tarpaulin overhead, and here she sits and cradles her three-year-old Jiff.
"The water rose to our necks," she says, of that fateful day. She looks away.
The mayor in Guiuan, Sheen Gonzales, is not in doubt: "You must help us."  
Translation: Lakambini Sitoy
Below is page 4: again a full page, with a shot of Guiuan taken by Politiken's own photographer. I can count five Danish journalists in the Philippines right now (there might be more), plus the head of the Danish Red Cross who is in Manila.


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