US official: Typhoon relief to the Philippines increases
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—Humanitarian efforts to help victims of Typhoon Haiyan are gaining momentum with growing international contributions and strong engagement by the Philippines government, according to a senior U.S. disaster assistance official.
The United States has provided more than $37 million for relief while international donors have committed approximately $193 million, Jeremy Konyndyk testified November 19 before the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs. Konyndyk leads the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
“Every day, aid efforts gather pace with the systems getting through to more people,” confirmed United Nations Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Valerie Amos.
Konyndyk said a cash contribution from USAID allowed the World Food Programme (WFP) to immediately purchase rice and canned food in local markets to meet the urgent nutritional needs of people affected by the typhoon. That food was able to reach families faster than if the United States had airlifted food to the devastated areas, he said.
USAID funds also allowed WFP to purchase high-energy biscuits for storm victims. In a November 19 statement, Amos said that, to date, donor-funded food aid distributed by the Philippines government has reached more than 1.1 million people.
Konyndyk said USAID is helping the Philippine Local Water Utilities Administration conduct water facility damage assessments in the provinces of Aklan, Cebu, Iloilo, Leyte, Negros, Occidental and Samar. In addition, USAID partners are providing generators for a water pumping facility and chlorine tablets and water containers to households for treating water.
The Philippines military evacuated severely injured people from Tacloban city, in Leyte, within 48 hours of the storm making landfall. The country’s government set up several field hospitals and is identifying where to set up more, Konyndyk said. With additional health care posts set up by relief groups that are providing medical supplies, medicines and medical staff, Konyndyk said the United Nations health coordinator and the Philippines health department both have reported that the health needs of the affected populations are being met and that additional relief should be directed to other needs.
Amos said an estimated 3.2 million women and 4.6 million children need psychosocial support and protection against violence, trafficking and exploitation. Pregnant women and other vulnerable groups also need special care, she said. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia-Pacific Affairs Scot Marciel told the subcommittee that the United States is working with the Philippines government to respond quickly to security concerns.