I realise that my blog has been a bit one-dimensional these past few weeks, a reflection in part of a slow couple of months in the office without much to talk about, and different priorities during my free time that have meant I haven’t spent as much time maintaining the site as I sometimes do. All part of the journey.
I found out yesterday afternoon that tomorrow morning I’ll be deploying to Manila to help with our office’s response to the flooding caused by Cyclone Ketsana that hit over the weekend. I’ll be out there for an initial couple of weeks, and see what happens from there.
As always with our line of work, when it rains, it pours. As well as trouncing Manila, Ketsana went on and as of last night had hit the Vietnamese coastline as a Category I typhoon. We’re still waiting to see the extent of the damage, and have teams on standby to help there as well. Three more tropical storm systems, two already named, are still queued up in the northern Pacific and tracking towards the east Asian coastline. Additionally, last night a shallow magnitude 8.0 earthquake struck Samoa, resulting in a small (5-foot) tsunami that has swamped villages and so far claimed at least 14 lives. And in Guinea, heavy-handed forces allied to a military government that seized power in a coup last year have been violently quelling protests with live rounds, resulting in over 150 deaths and 1,200 injuries. Guinea is in a state of growing instability and observers will be watching closely to see what unfolds over the coming weeks.
All this, of course, in addition to the usual humanitarian fare of forgotten crises that plod on with minimal support or international concern: ongoing warfare in southern Somalia, massive displacement in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Darfur, continued rebuilding amidst the instability of north-west Pakistan, the detention of 250,000 civilians in camps in northern Sri Lanka, simmering tribal warfare in Southern Sudan, not to mention northern Uganda, Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, and the three thousand people who will die from HIV/AIDS today. To name a few.
I’ll try and keep you updated with thoughts, experiences and images while I’m on the road. Hopefully I won’t face quite so many restrictions this time around.