Foreign aid pours in for ‘Pablo’ victimsBy Fat Reyes
MANILA, Philippines — Cash and relief goods for victims of typhoon Pablo (international name Bopha), the worst storm to hit the Philippines this year, poured in from foreign donors Friday.
Canada announced that it was giving P10 million (Cad$ 250,000) to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies to address the emergency needs of some 50,000 people affected by the storm.
”Canada is deeply concerned about the devastation caused by Typhoon Bopha and its impact on the people of the Philippines,” Canadian Minister for International Cooperation Julian Fantino said in a statement forwarded by the Canadian embassy in Manila.
The statement noted that the grant, to be provided by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), would help meet immediate and long-term needs by providing drinking water, food, and other much-needed relief items to affected families.
It also noted that a United Nations disaster and assessment team, which includes a Canadian delegate whose deployment is funded through an ongoing CIDA project, has been deployed to provide direct support with the rapid needs assessment. It said the Canadian government would continue to monitor the situation and provide further assistance if required.
Meanwhile, Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr also announced that his government has offered P210 million (A$5 million) in assistance to the Philippines for the conduct of relief operations.
A statement from the Australian embassy in Manila noted that of the P210 million (A$5million), P38.5 million (A$900,000) would be given to the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) for emergency family kits which include sleeping mats, mosquito nets and water containers, and another P43 million (A$1 million) would be given to the World Food Programme (WFP) for 1,000 tonnes of rice.
“Australia will also make available P4 million (A$100,000) through the United Nations Population Fund for hygiene and health kits for people in evacuation centers,” it said. It added that the remaining P126 million (A$3 million) will be made available for additional recovery and relief needs.
The United Kingdom (UK), meanwhile, also sent its condolences to the Philippines Friday, saying that one of its ministers was preparing to visit the country next week.
“The damage and loss of life caused by Typhoon Bopha is devastating. Our thoughts are with all those affected and with the Philippines’ emergency services as they lead the recovery work,” Hugo Swire, Minister of State at the Foreign Office in London, was quoted in a statement by the UK embassy in Manila.
“As I prepare to visit the Philippines next week, I extend on behalf of the UK Government my sincere condolences,” Swire added.
The United States had offered $100,000 for disaster relief efforts to be coursed through the non-profit organization Catholic Relief Services. Japan and the European Union (EU) had also sent the Philippines their messages of support and pledges of aid.
China also sent its sympathies to the Filipino victims, saying that the Red Cross Society of China has donated P1.2 million ($30,000) to its Philippine counterpart to support Philippine relief efforts.
“We’d like to express our heartfelt condolences and sympathies to the victims and the families that have suffered immense losses of lives and properties,” Zhang Hua, spokesperson from the Chinese embassy in Manila, said in a statement.
“We are confident that through the Philippine government’s prompt rescue and relief work, the affected Filipinos will be able to overcome the tragedy and rebuild their homes soon,” Zhang added.
Israel also offered its condolences to the Filipino families, as it commented the efforts of Philippine government agencies to mitigate the negative impacts of the typhoon.
“We also hope that the families, especially the children, will overcome the physical and emotional damages brought upon them, as they approach the holy days of Christmas and the New Year,” Menashe Bar-On, Israel’s Ambassador to Manila, said in a statement.
Typhoon Pablo, which slammed Visayas and Mindanao early this week, claimed the lives of more than 400 people, and left hundreds missing and injured.
The Philippine government also noted that damages from the typhoon could amount to P4 billion, and that it had affected at least 5 million people.