Thursday 19 April 2018

Breakthrough on typhoon aid

Philippines president oversees efforts as islands divided up in relief teams

Allison Bray

Allison Bray

The Philippines will divide up the typhoon-ravaged central Visayas islands between countries to maximise relief efforts.

The announcement came as president Benigno Aquino finally won some guarded praise for improving aid distribution 11 days after the storm hit.

But the country is still struggling to get aid to devastated areas due to the extent of the destruction, which has left four million people displaced, threatening Mr Aquino's reforms that have helped transform the Philippines into one of Asia's fastest-growing and hottest emerging economies.

Mr Aquino is now personally overseeing relief operations in the worst-hit city of Tacloban in one of Asia's biggest humanitarian efforts which could last months, if not years.

The military commander of the Visayas, Lieutenant-General Roy Deveraturda, said the relief plan was to now cut the region into blocks and decide which military forces operate where.

"We're planning to ask the British Royal Navy to concentrate on the western Visayas region to assess and deliver food, water and supplies to smaller islands. We already have the Americans in Samar and Leyte and Israeli doctors and relief teams in the northern tip of Cebu," he said.

About 50 US ships and aircraft have been mobilised in the disaster zone, led by the USS George Washington aircraft carrier. The USS Freedom, a combat ship for coastal waters, arrived in Brunei on Monday en route to the Philippines.

Meanwhile, Irish aid agencies have been overwhelmed by the public response to the humanitarian crisis with more than €1m raised in private donations since Typhoon Haiyan hit. The outpouring of donations from citizens and companies has been phenomenal, according to some of Ireland's leading aid agencies.

HOMELESS

There has been a massive effort to try to get vital food, medicine and other supplies to the estimated four million people who have been left homeless, while millions more have been left without food or water.

Trocaire has received more than €620,000 in donations alone since the typhoon struck the islands 12 days ago, killing more than 3,681 people and leaving 1,186 missing.

Eamonn Meehan, Trocaire's executive director, said: "The result of people's solidarity and generosity with survivors of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines can be seen in the planes, trucks and ships that are arriving to bring aid to those worst affected.

"People in the Philippines are very grateful for the support of the people of Ireland. Nothing will ever make them forget the nightmare they are living through, but at least our support can help them rebuild their lives."

Jane-Ann McKenna, executive director of Medicins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders Ireland, said the medical charity was heartened by the massive support it had received from the Irish public who had donated more than €200,000 to the charity alone.

"We've been overwhelmed by the generosity of our existing and new donors," she told the Irish Independent.

The funds will go towards the team of 150 doctors, nurses, and other emergency personnel currently on the ground in the Philippines, who will be erecting the charity's "inflatable" hospital on a parking lot of the Bethany Hospital in Tacloban today that was all but washed away.

Irish Independent

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