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.
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—President Obama says the United States is providing significant humanitarian assistance to the Philippines and is rushing additional relief supplies, equipment and aid in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda.
Obama said in a November 10 statement that he and first lady Michelle Obama were “deeply saddened by the loss of life and extensive damage done by Super Typhoon Yolanda. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the millions of people affected by this devastating storm.” He added that the United States will provide further assistance in the Philippine government’s relief and recovery efforts.
Haiyan (Yolanda) struck the eastern seaboard of the Philippines on November 8 and 9 rolling rapidly across its central islands with winds of 235 kilometers per hour (147 miles per hour) that gusted at times to 275 kph (170 mph), and also brought a storm surge of 6 meters (20 feet). A weakened typhoon with winds of 120 kph (74 mph) made landfall in northern Vietnam early November 11 after crossing the South China Sea.
Acting U.S. Ambassador Brian Goldbeck, the chargé d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Manila, issued an immediate disaster declaration and announced he was making available $100,000 to provide health, water and sanitation support to the Philippines. The embassy also said a humanitarian assistance survey team was flying to Manila to conduct a full needs assessment. A U.S. Agency for International Development
(USAID) disaster assistance and response team was preparing to conduct surveys across regions of the country struck by the storm.
USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance and mission representatives have already deployed to different locations throughout the affected areas to gauge the severity of the storm’s damage, the embassy said.
Secretary of State John Kerry offered to the Philippine people “our deepest condolences and solidarity as you wrestle with the devastation and loss of life that accompanied Super Typhoon Haiyan.”
Kerry said November 11 that the State Department also is cooperating with the Philippines Typhoon Disaster Relief Fund established by The mGive Foundation, a U.S. nonprofit organization, to coordinate donations via mobile phones to benefit victims of the typhoon.
“Since the start of this calamity, the United States has been working closely with our partners in the Philippines to provide rapid and effective relief. Our embassies in the Philippines and Palau are in close and constant contact with their partners in local governments to direct aid to the right places,” he said.
Kerry spoke with Philippines Foreign Minister Albert del Rosario and assured him of a full U.S. commitment to provide all necessary assistance.
The United States is organizing emergency shipments of critically needed material to provide shelter to the hundreds of thousands of Filipinos driven from their homes by this unprecedented typhoon, and is also organizing emergency shipments of food and hygiene supplies to thousands of families, Kerry said.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced that he has directed the Hawaii-based U.S. Pacific Command to provide helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft and surface maritime search-and-rescue equipment in response to a request for aid from the Philippine government.
Hagel said the U.S. military is working in coordination with USAID and the U.S. Embassy in Manila to monitor the effects of the typhoon and is “ready to help our ally recover from the storm.”
“The initial focus includes surface maritime search and rescue (SAR), medium-heavy helicopter lift support, airborne maritime SAR, fixed-wing lift support and logistics enablers,” the Pentagon said.
U.S. military forces frequently provide direct relief and recovery support after natural disasters anywhere help is needed and at the request of foreign governments, Pentagon press secretary George Little said.
International aid organizations and other governments are also sending emergency teams and relief supplies to the Philippines.
About 90 U.S. Marines and sailors flew to the Philippines November 10 from Okinawa as part of an advance assessment team sent to begin providing relief and recovery support, the Pentagon said. The team has requested C-130 cargo planes, MV-22 Osprey helicopters and other helicopter aircraft, and the Navy has sent two P-3 Orion surveillance aircraft.
As the Marines and sailors prepared to leave Okinawa for the Philippines they also loaded palletized equipment, relief supplies and food on C-130 cargo planes. The Orions are used during natural disasters to patrol the seas looking for survivors who may be stranded in ships and boats. The surveillance aircraft also help in assessing land areas struck by the storm to locate survivors.
In addition to U.S. military assistance en route to the Philippines, several hundred U.S. special operations forces are on short-term assignments to the Philippines to train and advise local troops dealing with extremist groups. There are no U.S. military personnel permanently stationed in the country.