The Philippines is still reeling from the devastation brought by super typhoon Haiyan five days ago, and continuous international relief has been pouring in. The United Nations (UN) recently allowed the release of an emergency fund totaling $25 million to help defray the costs of safe water supplies, sanitation facilities, health services, basic household items and materials for temporary shelter. The intergovernmental organization also launched an appeal to help raise another $301 million in the relief efforts.
Based on initial estimates by the UN, there are more than 11 million people affected and 673,000 were displaced when the typhoon struck and wreaked havoc on several central Philippine provinces. Tacloban City on Leyte Island alone was severely damaged by tsunami-like storm surges and strong winds where hundreds of people are also feared dead. The UN’s Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief is currently in Manila to lead the aid efforts of the UN.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III estimates that the typhoon, the strongest recorded in the country so far, may have killed 2,000 to 2,500 people. The country’s National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) is still collating data on the total number of casualties as of today.
US Sends Ships to Help in the Relief Efforts
The United States (US) on Wednesday announced that it will be sending two ships to the Philippines stationed in Japan for the relief operations – the USS Ashland and USS Germantown. The two ships will complement the existing US vessels already en route to the typhoon-ravaged Philippine provinces, including the aircraft carrier USS George Washington according to Navy Spokesman Captain Darryn James. The US sailors will provide humanitarian assistance, disaster support and medical care to the survivors. The US government also earmarked $20 million for immediate release in the relief efforts.
Other Help Coming In
The United Kingdom (UK) provided $16 million which includes the provision of equipment to help in the clearing and re-opening of roads to ease access for relief vehicles. The UK likewise will provide other emergency supplies and water purification tablets.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop pledged support by sending in Australian medical teams to provide emergency medical care as well as $3 million in aid. The Australian government earlier gave $4 million to add to the UN relief fund.
Pope Francis also announced that $150,000 in aid will be sent to the Philippines. Aside from the amount pledged by the Pope, Reuters reports the Vatican will extend an additional amount of 3 million euros ($4 million). The Philippine population is composed of 85% Christians and Roman Catholics.
Other countries, like Japan and Indonesia, have already sent medical personnel to the affected provinces aside from sending in food supplies, drinking water, medicines and power generators. Also, members of Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) have already sent medical supplies and medical personnel to help in the international relief efforts. China sent $200,000 in aid to the distraught country.
Meanwhile, the International Federation of Red Cross and the Red Crescent Societies appealed to raise $94.6 million to help in the relief operation. UK-based Disasters Emergency Committee has also launched an appeal for donations.
Typhoon Haiyan One of the Strongest Typhoon Ever Recorded
Based on the data of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the super typhoon has a sustained winds of 235km/h (147 mph), gusts of 275 km/h (170 mph) and waves reaching as high as 15m (45 ft).
The devastation brought by super typhoon Haiyan to the Philippines has again awoken the spirit of cooperation and compassion as international relief continues to pour in. This just goes to show that no one, especially a country, is isolated in this single world we call Earth.
By Roberto I. Belda