DFA happy with foreign response to Sendong disaster
MANILA, Philippines—Although the United Nations expressed disappointment over the poor response by member states to its appeal for aid to Filipino victims of Tropical Storm Sendong, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Saturday many countries and foreign communities sent direct donations to the Philippines amounting to about P1.12 billion.
The DFA said it was “pleased and thankful” for donations which continue to pour in from various parts of the world, already amounting to nearly $25 million (about P1.21 billion).
On the other hand, the UN’s fund-raising initiative in December has attracted $7.4 million (about P322 million). The UN’s target was $28.6 million (about P1.26 million).
Raul Hernandez, the DFA spokesperson, clarified that “the total figure received by the DFA does not include aid from the UN’s flash appeal, as well as non-quantifiable donations.”
“This demonstrates the generosity and solidarity of many countries and people all over the world,” Hernandez told the Inquirer, adding that the government was happy and thankful.
The foreign office, he said, was “expecting more foreign aid and donations to come.”
Earlier, the DFA disclosed that the top foreign country donors were: United States, $5.5 million in cash and pledges; Japan, $2 million; Australia, $1.32 million; China, $1.01 million; Czech Republic, $894,000; South Korea, $610,000; Indonesia, $510,000; and New Zealand, $500,000.
Overseas Filipino communities also sent cash donations from the following countries: US, $19,457; Guam, $4,456; France, $3,921; Xiamen, China, $2,275; Myanmar, $1,094; and Malaysia, $1,000, among others.
The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office handed a check for $150,000 to the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Aside from the UN, the International Organization for Migration and the Organization of the Islamic Conference made their own appeals and are sending their teams to the disaster-affected areas in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities.
On December 23, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) appealed to the international community to provide an additional $28.6 million to the relief effort.
Dr. Soe Nyunt-U, acting head of Ocha’s Manila office, said the target was to “provide food, clean water for drinking and bathing, emergency shelter, and essential household items to 471,000 worst-affected people in the cities of Cagayan del Oro and Iligan for three months.”
“The needs are overwhelming…. The overflowing generosity of the Filipino people is saving lives. But more needs to be done,” Soe told a news conference.
Assessments made by the government and Ocha in the disaster areas “showed a population ill-prepared to deal with the scale of the disaster and local response capacities struggling to cope with the unexpected needs.”
Ahead of Soe’s announcement, the UN Emergency Relief Office said it was releasing a $3-million grant to the flood victims.
According to the National Disk Reduction and Management Council, the death toll reached 1,257 people as of early January, while more than 26,000 people still lived in evacuation centers. Total damage to property was estimated at over P1.38 billion.
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