US military scales down aid efforts in Philippines

Work shifts to recovery and rehabilitation in typhoon-hit areas

People walk through an area devastated by Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban. Typhoon Haiyan smashed through the country on November 8th, killing more than 5,2000 people. Photograph: Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters

People walk through an area devastated by Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban. Typhoon Haiyan smashed through the country on November 8th, killing more than 5,2000 people. Photograph: Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters

 

The US military has began scaling back its emergency relief operations in the Philippines as work shifts to recovery and rehabilitation in typhoon-hit areas, a US aid agency official said today.

Typhoon Haiyan, the most powerful storm to make landfall this year, struck the central Philippines on November 8th, killing more than 5,200 people, displacing 4.4 million and destroying an estimated 12 billion pesos (€200 million) worth of crops and infrastructure.

The US Navy has pulled out its nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the USS George Washington, but still has ten C-130 aircraft delivering relief supplies. Last week, the United States had 50 ships and aircraft in the disaster zone.

Jeremy Konyndyk, director for Foreign Disaster Assistance at the US Agency for International Development (USAID), said the US military had started to reduce its presence to allow civilian aid agencies to step up efforts.

“What we have seen, particularly over the past week, is now civilian and private-sector commercial capacity has started coming back up again and that is taking the burden off of the military actors,” Mr Konyndyk told Reuters in an interview.

“You don’t want the military playing that role in the long run, they are an interim bridging capacity there, but in the long run, that really needs to be civilian role.”

Mr Konyndyk said there had been significant progress in meeting people’s basic needs as more roads and ports opened in the worst-hit Leyte and Samar islands.

“Food has been distributed to three million people, shelter kits have been delivered to tens of thousands of families. I think the situation with immediate humanitarian needs is becoming stabilised.”

Aid delivery was gathering pace as access to affected areas improved, the UN humanitarian office said it its latest report. However, major issues remained including the distribution of food and access to clean water and shelter material.

Mr Konyndyk said the next step was for USAID and other international aid agencies to refocus their efforts on long-term recovery and reconstruction, giving priority to shelter and livelihoods for farmers and fishermen.

The United States has increased its typhoon aid to nearly $52 million, but latest estimates from the United Nations showed the disaster rehabilitation plan would cost $348 million. Only 38 per cent of the plan is funded.

The United Nations is working to finish a blueprint for a Haiyan Action Plan reconstruction strategy by December 9th. The World Bank has increased to almost $1 billion its aid to support relief and reconstruction.

President Benigno Aquino is separately seeking extra budget from Congress to finance relief and rehabilitation efforts. (Reuters)

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.