Deutsche Post DHL, the world’s leading postal and logistics services group, is sending the first members of its Disaster Response Team (DRT) to the central Philippines in the wake of the devastation wrought by super typhoon “Haiyan”. They will help with on-the-ground airport logistics by setting up a warehouse to help sort relief goods. The aid will then be transported to the people in need as quickly as possible. The members of the DRT will operate at the regional Mactan Cebu Airport on Cebu island right next to the country’s most affected Leyte island. The DRT will manage the logistics of the inbound relief goods sent via air or sea by the international community and help ensure the quick and constant flow of goods to the people in need. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), over 10 million people are affected and more than 660,000 are displaced. Officials in Leyte Province are reporting that hundreds have died in Tacloban City in the most affected area alone. The region is in desperate need of water, food, medicine, shelter, hygiene and sanitation.
“The situation in the Philippines, and in particular in Leyte province, is simply devastating, and there is a critical need to provide food and water to the people affected as quickly as possible. Our Disaster Response Team is trained to provide logistics support to the relief effort at local airports following a natural disaster and we welcome this opportunity to contribute our knowledge and skills now in the Philippines. We know that in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, regional airport logistics can very often encounter bottlenecks which delay the delivery of life-sustaining relief supplies for victims. Here, we can make a difference with our logistics expertise at a crucial point in the relief effort and help to ensure swift and organized handling of all incoming materials,” said Deutsche Post DHL CEO Frank Appel.
The DHL team, together with other humanitarian partners, has prepared a temporary professional warehouse at the Mactan Cebu airport for the now increasing influx of goods. The DRT will handle incoming freight, make a full inventory and ensure the speedy loading of the most critical supplies onto trucks or helicopters. Because roads are blocked or completely destroyed – and because regular access to the smaller islands is limited – the DRT has provided so-called DHL Speedballs, special bags with basic relief goods that can be dropped from helicopters. At the moment, Philippine airport staff is packing 300 Speedballs a day to be distributed to the affected region.
“Our DRT members are well-trained to provide hands-on effective logistics support. The specific challenge in the Philippines is the complete destruction of infrastructure and the geography with its many islands,” said Chris Weeks, DHL Director of Humanitarian Affairs.
In cooperation with UNOCHA, Deutsche Post DHL established a global network of Disaster Response Teams (DRT) in 2005 to support airports in the event of a disaster. The DRT network consists of more than 400 trained employees who have registered as volunteers and spans the three regions Americas, Middle East/Africa and Asia-Pacific in order to be as close as possible to affected areas. DRT teams provide logistical support at airports, free of charge, conducting professional warehousing and inventory management, as well as loading relief goods for onward transportation. From the time they were established, the DRTs have provided logistical support as part of more than 20 deployments worldwide, three among them have been on the Philippines.