The United States says it will carry out aid work in the typhoon-devastated central Philippines until relief operations end. About 5,600 people have died or are missing after Super Typhoon Haiyan tore a path of destruction across the country.
The U.S. has been shuttling relief goods to hard to reach parts of the central island provinces since last Friday. Its strike force aboard the aircraft carrier, the USS George Washington, is using MV-22B Ospreys, which are able to land vertically like a helicopter. Early on, U.S. forces also lent logistical support to prop up badly damaged infrastructure.
U.S. Marine Lieutenant General John Wissler told reporters in Manila American forces are focused on completing relief operations.
“We will be here as long as it takes to continue to provide those unique capabilities that will in fact relieve the immediate suffering and allow for that transition,” Wissler said, referring to the period when the Philippine government starts to shift its focus to recovery and rebuilding.
Philippine Aid Donors Factbox
Many countries and organizations are providing humanitarian aid to the Philippines in the wake of Friday's typhoon. The most prominent donors include:
UNITED NATIONS: $25 million released from U.N. emergency relief fund, appealing for more
UNITED STATES: $20 million in aid, plus military assistance
EU: $17 million
BRITAIN: $16 million, plus military assistance
JAPAN: $10 million, and an emergency medical relief team
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: $10 million
AUSTRALIA: $9.3 million, including medical personnel
SOUTH KOREA: $5 million, plus a disaster relief team
CANADA: up to $5 million
U.N. WORLD FOOD PROGRAM: $2 million
NEW ZEALAND: $1.7 million
U.N. CHILDREN'S FUND (UNICEF): $1.3 million worth of supplies
HSBC (global banking group): $1 million
SAMSUNG (South Korean technology company): $1 million
VATICAN: $150,000 in initial assistance
CHINA RED CROSS: $100,000
At least 16 countries including Australia, Vietnam and Singapore are lending military assets toward the relief operation. Japan’s self-defense force has been carrying out medical missions in the hardest hit provinces. The Philippine military says these governments have lent 61 air assets and 14 naval vessels.
China announced Wednesday it would be sending its 14,000 ton floating naval hospital, upping its support significantly a week and a half after the storm hit.
The foreign militaries formed a coalition headed jointly by the Philippines and the United States. Officials say they are holding daily briefings.
Philippine National Defense Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Batino expressed gratitude for the international military help.
“We think we have been very successful in coordinating and integrating the efforts of all foreign militaries operating within the affected communities,” Batino said.
The Philippine government had been criticized for what many called a slow response in the early days after Typhoon Haiyan struck.
Wissler says with any major calamity, the response appears slow-going. But in the case of Haiyan, he says the long strategic partnership between the United States and the Philippines allowed for a “very, very rapid response.”
While there are signs of recovery in some of the hardest hit areas, with small businesses selling limited goods, the government continues to see to the basic needs of hundreds of thousands of people who were displaced by the storm.