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The World Council of Churches (WCC), as a fellowship of 345 churches from around the world, expresses deep sadness and sympathy for the devastating loss of life and property in the Philippines caused by the super typhoon Haiyan.

Together with all member churches of the fellowship, Christians and people of all faiths around the world, we pause and pray for those who have been affected by this disaster.

While the official death toll is not certain, Philippine officials say the toll could rise to 10,000 lives lost as a result of the storm.  Already more than half a million people are homeless and thousands more have been injured.

Through our partner ecumenical organization, ACT Alliance, many WCC member churches from around the world are responding to this unfathomable disaster.  And even as rescue, recovery and clean-up proceed, there is the threat of another storm moving toward the region.

We pray for the safety of all involved in the clean-up and rebuilding and for those survivors of the storm who lost loved ones, some in the most dramatic way, where their children or family members were literally swept from their arms.

We recognize in these cataclysmic events that it is most often the poor who suffer and have the most difficult challenge to rebuild their lives with few resources.  We call upon aid agencies and governments not to forget the poorest, from whom the little they had has been taken away.

In what is perhaps the largest storm to date in the region, we recognize the reality of changing weather patterns and the increasing intensity of storms, and we pray that all of us will do our part to reverse the warming of the oceans and remember that it is the poor who will suffer first and the most in any weather disaster.

Above all, we look in faith to the comforting presence of God, “our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Ps. 46:1). And we detect the hand of God in the struggle for life, the help of neighbours, the strength of rescuers, the solidarity of those far away.