A Catholic diocese in the southern Philippines has provided homes to at least 50 families who were displaced by a series of earthquakes that hit the province of Cotabato late last year.
Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo of Kidapawan turned over the shelters to their beneficiaries in the town of Makilala — one of the worst-hit areas in the country’s southern region of Mindanao.
“The Catholic Church is always ready and willing not only to help parishioners with their faith, but also to uplift the lives of those stricken by calamities,” said the bishop.
From October to December last year, a series of earthquakes with magnitudes exceeding 6.0 jolted a large part of Mindanao. The earthquakes also struck the provinces of Cotabato and Davao del Sur.
A total of 36 people were killed and over 770 people were injured by collapsing structures, falling debris, and earthquake-related traumas, according to aid agencies.
The quakes destroyed or damaged at least 73,100 houses, resulting in the displacement of thousands of residents in the town of Makilala.
People initially pitched makeshift shelters along the national highway and in open areas until until eventually being brought to evacuation centers.
Bishop Bagaforo urged the victims not to lose hope, citing the efforts of the government and non-government organizations to help.
“Behind every cross, there is the treasure of God,” said the bishop, who is also the new head of the social action secretariat of the Catholic bishops conference.
Bishop Bagaforo said the shelters provided for the most-affected families are part of the ongoing emergency response, supported by Caritas Spain and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation.
He appealed to benefactors to continue helping the housing projects for the victims of the disaster, saying they still need livelihood assistance and better roads, electricity, and water systems.
Last month, various aid agencies made an appeal to the donor community to help raise $431.8 million to help the quake victims.
Mark Bidder, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said aid organizations have so far secured at least $5.7 million or 18 percent of the total requirement needed to support the government-led response for the quake victims.
As of mid-February, at least 48,000 people continue to languish in evacuation centers in Cotabato and Davao del Sur provinces, according to Bidder.