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World pours aid into the Philippines

First Posted 01:56:00 09/30/2009

MANILA, Philippines?Responding to the appeal of the Philippines for help, several countries and groups have donated or pledged food, money and technical assistance to avert a humanitarian crisis following the onslaught of Tropical Storm ?Ondoy? (international codename: Ketsana).

Among the first to respond to the appeal were countries such as Australia, China, Vietnam, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, the United States and France, and organizations like the UN World Food Program and World Health Organization.

Vietnam pledged rice aid as it awaited the imminent arrival of Ketsana, which devastated Metro Manila and neighboring provinces on Saturday.

Vietnam would send about $208,333 worth of rice, according to the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC). Japan sent emergency relief goods worth about $220,000.

As a tropical storm, Ondoy dumped more than 40 centimeters (15 inches) of rain on Metro Manila and its surroundings, unleashing six-meter (20-foot) floods that killed at least 240 people, according to the latest official tally.

The floods affected nearly two million people, 375,000 of whom have sought shelter in schools, gyms and other makeshift camps, according to the government, which said it had been ?overwhelmed.?

The government has declared a state of calamity in Metro Manila and 25 other provinces.

The Ambassador of Singapore A. Selverajah on Tuesday handed over US$30,000 of humanitarian relief supplies to the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC).

Singapore has also contributed US$20,000 in seed money to kick start the Singapore Red Cross? public drive for donations from Singaporeans for the victims.

In Australia, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith told parliament his country would give up to A$1 million (US$874,920) in aid to the Philippines.

?Australia?s contribution will help with the relief operations of both the Philippine government and the PNRC, including providing emergency supplies of drinking water, food, clothing, hygiene kits and related essential items,? Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Rod Smith said in a statement.

China on Monday said it was donating $10,000 to the Philippine National Red Cross.

Korean relief team

The Republic of Korea on Tuesday said it would donate relief goods worth $300,000 to the Philippine government.

In a statement, the Korean Embassy said the chair of the Seoul-based OCI Co., Lee Soo Young, donated $50,000 in cash to the PNRC on Sept. 29.

It also said the United Korean Community Association in the Philippines was delivering relief items to the people in need in Valenzuela, Paraaque, Antipolo City and Cainta, Rizal.

The United States offered $50,000, and a small number of US Navy personnel were helping in relief efforts, according to a US Embassy statement.

UN flash appeal

France said it had given 10,000 euros ($14,500) through the Red Cross.

At the United Nations, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo that the world body was considering issuing a ?flash appeal? for aid to member states and NGOs, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.

UN personnel are already helping relief operations in Manila and ?additional personnel based in Bangkok are on their way,? the DFA added.

The UN World Food Program (WFP) offered 740 tons of rice aid, while the UN Children?s Fund said it sent $143,000 in supplies.

?We are deeply saddened by the magnitude of the human suffering caused by this natural calamity and we assure the Philippine government and its people of our support for a swift and coordinated recovery effort,? Stephen Anderson, WFP country representative in the Philippines, said in a statement.

The World Health Organization earlier announced a $2,000 relief fund.

Heartened by assurances

In a report, the Philippine mission to the United Nations in New York said that Ban and John Holmes, UN undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs, received Romulo at the UN headquarters and informed him of the UN support.

?We are heartened by the assurances given by the secretary general and the undersecretary general that the United Nations will take positive action on our request for assistance,? Ambassador Hilario G. Davide Jr., Philippine permanent representative to the United Nations, quoted Romulo as saying.

Embassies as conduits

The DFA has mobilized Philippine embassies and consulates as conduits for donations and other forms of assistance from overseas Filipino community groups and individuals.

Ruth Morales Prado, Philippine consul general in Vancouver, Canada, reported to the DFA that Filipino organizations in British Columbia such as Goldilocks, Manila Express and Multicultural Helping House Society had set up drop-off points for donations and relief goods for the victims of Ondoy.

Help from OFWs

Relief goods, cash donations and other forms of assistance from Filipino workers in the country and abroad are on their way to flood victims.

In Manila, the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) launched ?Task Force Obrero? to gather donations and conduct relief operations in Metro Manila and neighboring provinces for the benefit of poor victims, particularly low-income breadwinners and workers.

The KMU said material donations may be sent to its office (Tel. No. 421-0986) at 63 Narra St., Project 3, Quezon City. Cash donations may also be sent through Banco Filipino-Kamias branch (Acct. No. 20-029-006840-5) under account holders Noel Colina and Priscilla Ang-Maniquiz of the Balai Obrero Foundation, also on 63 Narra St., or through Western Union or Xoom Payment, care of Maniquiz.

Relief goods from Middle East

A group of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), Migrante-Middle East, said boxes of clothes, canned food and other dry goods sent by Filipino communities and OFW organizations in the Middle East, particularly in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait, were piling up in the group?s headquarters.

The Inquirer story on the relief drive launched by Migrante was later posted in this paper?s online edition and generated many inquiries from readers. Migrante-ME regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona, who is based in Saudi Arabia, used the INQUIRER.net?s comments section to answer queries from prospective donors.

Monterona said early donors came from several OFWs working in different establishments and government offices in Jeddah such as King Fahd Armed Forces Hospital, King Khalid National Guard Hospital, Saudi German Hospital, International Medical Center and several Philippine schools.

In Riyadh, al-Khobar, Dammam, many OFWs also dropped by the Migrante offices to give one riyal coins collected from OFWs and other donors.

Hong Kong, New Zealand

Other country chapters of Migrante in Hong Kong and New Zealand have also started their relief drive.

From New Zealand, Migrante coordinator Dennis Maga said those who can send financial assistance may donate through the Migrant Action Trust (MAT), with ASB Bank Account No. 12 -3077-0509589-00. Donors can get one-third back of their donation as rebate since the MAT is a registered charity, he said.

In Hong Kong, beneficiaries of the relief drive begun by the Migrante chapter, United Filipinos in HK, included eight OFWs from calamity areas who lost their homes or whose loved ones died in the flood.

Donors in the Chinese territory may send cash or check donations to the Unifil-HK?s Dah Sing Bank Ltd. account (5930-1930-52). Checks may also be mailed to the Unifil?s office at New Hall, St. John?s Cathedral complex on Garden Road, Central District.

The St. John?s office also entertains walk-in donors of canned goods, clothing and other supplies. A similar center for donations has also been set up for donors from Kowloon Bethune House on No. 2 Jordan Road. Reports from Agence France-Presse, Cynthia D. Balana, Amy R. Remo, Jerome Aning and Alcuin Papa

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