China joins int’l relief efforts
MANILA, Philippines—The international community continues to extend help to the Philippines two weeks into the massive relief and recovery operations for the typhoon-ravaged Eastern Visayas.
“We are truly touched by the overwhelming support of the international community as we continue with disaster response and relief efforts. This demonstration of commitment by our international partners further inspires us even as we go into the tougher phase of rehabilitation and rebuilding,” said Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez, the Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman.
Earlier criticized for the “measly” assistance it announced earlier, China has sent its hospital ship “Peace Ark” to support health relief for typhoon survivors, help that the Philippine government has accepted despite unresolved territorial disputes over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
China earlier announced a $200,000 donation to the Philippines but increased this to $1.6 million, plus a pledge to send medical and rescue teams, after it was criticized for giving so little despite its standing as one of the world’s largest economies.
The Philippine and Chinese government have yet to announce where the ship will be deployed.
“We are thankful for the offer of China to send the Peace Ark hospital ship to support the relief operations. And we have accepted that offer. The schedule and other details related to its deployment are now being coordinated with concerned agencies,” said Hernandez.
Rare amiable exchange
It was a rare amiable exchange between the two antagonists, a far cry from the strongly worded exchange of messages earlier this year.
Hernandez said the United States, China’s rival superpower in the Asia-Pacific, is poised to send its hospital ship USNS Mercy, on top of its current deployment of an estimated 50 air and sea assets, including an aircraft carrier and support, cargo aircraft and planes capable of vertical landing to penetrate hard-to-reach areas.
This is on top some $37.23 million in aid that the US has so far allocated through the US Agency for International Development (USAid) and the US Department of Defense.
“The Philippines is grateful for the continued assistance provided by the US in the aftermath of Typhoon ‘Yolanda,’” Hernandez said.
“There is an agreement in principle between the Philippines and the US that the USNS Mercy will be deployed at a time when it is needed most, based upon assessment of the needs of the Philippines,” he said.
As of Thursday, foreign governments and organizations had so far pledged some $320.5 million, or P13.1 billion, in aid including bilateral donations and pledges in cash and kind directly to the Philippine government, and multilateral funding coursed through the United Nations.
In its latest report on the status of funding, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) said it had so far received $128.9 million out of the $301 million in assistance it had requested through a flash appeal for the international community on Nov. 12.
The amount aims to support the provision of emergency relief—including food, shelter, water, hygiene and sanitation to the affected population—as well as the recovery phase for six months.
China hospital ship heads for typhoon-hit Philippines
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