First aid

STAN Hogarth seems to have a very poor opinion of the efforts international aid agencies are making to address the current emergency in the Philippines (Letters, 15 November).

Had Mr Hogarth given the matter a little more thought, he would surely have recognised the sheer enormity of the logistical problems which Typhoon Haiyan has created in its wake, not least of which is the remoteness of some of the many islands which have been affected.

As it happens, on the same day as his letter appeared, The Scotsman published an appeal by Norman McKinley, chairman of the Disasters Emergency Committee Philippines Typhoon Appeal in Scotland (Perspective, 15 November), in which he pointed out that the massive aid effort swung into action within hours of the disaster.

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Volunteers from the Philippines Red Cross have been working around the clock, and have been joined by teams of aid workers from experienced international organisations who are primed to react immediately to disasters wherever they occur around the world, and, as Mr McKinley states, know precisely what is needed by the devastated population.

However, expertise is not enough to overcome the problems arising from the massive destruction of airport runways, roads, and the telecommunications network.

Life-saving food and water supplies were dispatched from countries around the world in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, but, even when the planes carrying them manage to land, the packed crates have to lie around airports awaiting clearance of the roads leading to major sites of devastation.

I can well imagine the frustration of aid workers who desperately want to reach those traumatised people who now face illness and possible death from disease.

The British public, as always, have responded to the appeals by “digging deep”, as Mr Hogarth states, and they do so because they know that aid agencies are effective, humanitarian organisations who work tirelessly on the ground to alleviate suffering wherever it occurs, as soon as it occurs.

Carolyn Taylor


Broughty Ferry