Yesterday I had the great privilege of hosting Efleda Bautista from People Surge at Parliament. People Surge is a group of 2o,ooo people who are survivors or supporters of communities impacted by Typhoon Haiyan. For Efleda and her communities, climate change is a daily threat as the consequences of this devastating event continue to impact on them. Efleda described how the strategies of disaster capitalism are entrenching the loss of lives, home, jobs, crops and sometimes human rights.
She said that the Government of the Philippines did not warn the coastal people they were facing a super typhoon and that they did not provide emergency shelters or immediate relief to the devastated communities. She also told me that since Typhoon Haiyan they have created “no build zones”, with no alternative sites for about a million people.
Efleda explained how the Government has built some bunkhouses for homeless families which have become permanent camps, where hope of rebuilding is fading if you don’t know the right people. Even worse, she says, the Philippines Government is using the disaster to bring military into damaged regions and are targeting supposed ‘communist insurgents’. She says People Surge has already had a member killed by the military.
MPs from the Greens, New Zealand First and the Labour Party asked Efleda what we can do in this country to help with this appalling situation.
Efleda asked for us to do our best to reduce carbon emissions so her country is not subjected to more extreme climate change-related events, and to ask the Government how our aid money to Philippines was spent.
The second anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan is the first week of November and we want to remind people that climate change is an issue of justice. As it unfolds, those without political and economic power who – organise for their own survival – are at huge risk. We need to stand with them and show respect for indomitable organisers like Efleda and for organisations like People Surge.