Aid Groups Get Strong Response to Philippines Appeals

November 21, 2013 3:57 PM

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Aid Groups Get Strong Response to Philippines Appeals

The database, the Financial Tracking Service, said donors had provided $129 million of the $301 million requested on Nov. 12 in a “flash appeal” issued by Valerie Amos, the under secretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, who has spent most of the past week in the Philippines helping lead the aid effort.

Ms. Amos’s agency, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, is the conduit for all typhoon-related foreign aid flowing to the Philippines from governments and organizations.

According to the Foreign Aid Transparency Hub, a Philippines government portal that tallies overseas contributions, the total amount pledged for typhoon relief so far, including the sum raised in Ms. Amos’s emergency financing appeal, is nearly $320 million.

Ms. Amos, who was stunned at the extent of devastation and the initially slow response as she toured the flattened city of Tacloban in Leyte Province and other hard-hit areas last week, was far more positive in her appraisal of the effort on Tuesday in remarks to the news media in Manila.

Earlier that day she had revisited Tacloban. “Today was very different,” she told reporters. “The relief operation has been scaled up substantially. People are making every effort to rebuild their lives, and the early signs of entrepreneurialism are all there.”

In another barometer of a robust foreign interest in helping, Doctors Without Borders, the Paris-based emergency health organization that was among the first to send medical teams into the disaster zone, said its appeals for funds had also attracted a strong response. Michael Goldfarb, a spokesman for the organization, said nearly half the $3 million received so far just in the United States had come in response to emails, which he called “a pronounced response rate compared to what we normally see from email appeals.”

Other signs of increased momentum in the foreign aid effort have been evident in recent days. Lt. Gen. John E. Wissler, the Marine commander who is in overall charge of the American military role in the emergency, said Tuesday in a telephone interview from Manila that the first ship loaded with food to arrive by sea had docked in Tacloban port, and that most, if not all, overland routes in the disaster zone had been cleared.

Thirteen thousand American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines have been engaged in the relief effort so far, General Wissler said, and 3,000 more are en route. He said the Americans had flown more than 8,000 survivors out of the affected areas.

In another hopeful sign, General Wissler said the Navy’s mothballed hospital ship Mercy, which was activated last week in anticipation that it might need to join other Pacific Fleet ships now stationed off the Philippines, would not be needed.

The typhoon, believed to be the most powerful storm to make landfall on record, hit the midsection of the Philippines on Nov. 8, displacing more than 4.4 million people and affecting 13.2 million in 44 provinces, according to government figures.

As of Wednesday, the official death toll was 4,011, with 18,557 injured and 1,602 missing.

Source: nytimes.com

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