Manila (AFP) – The United Nations was Tuesday poised to appeal for hundreds of millions of dollars in emergency aid for the typhoon-ravaged Philippines, as a massive international relief effort began to build momentum.
UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos is in Manila to launch a “flash appeal” for cash, while the U.S. and Britain deployed warships carrying thousands of soldiers to assist in a vast operation to help nearly 10 million people affected by Friday’s super typhoon.
After famished survivors ransacked aid convoys, Philippines authorities deployed armored vehicles and set up checkpoints in the devastated city of Tacloban Tuesday to stop desperate victims raiding food and medical supplies.
Almost 10 percent of the Philippines’ population have been affected after Super Typhoon Haiyan smashed into the nation’s central islands, leaving at least 10,000 people feared dead while 660,000 have lost their homes, according to the UN.
The Pentagon said the aircraft carrier USS George Washington, with 5,000 sailors and more than 80 aircraft aboard, will head to the United States’ close Asian ally from Hong Kong to join 180 U.S. Marines assisting in the humanitarian efforts on the ground.
Britain boosted its aid to £10 million as Prime Minister David Cameron said HMS Daring, a destroyer, would sail to the Philippines “at full speed” from its current deployment in Singapore, joined by a Royal Air Force C-17 transport plane.
Dead bodies still litter the wreckage across devastated communities in the central islands, with whole districts of coastal towns reduced to piles of splintered wood.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the aid effort “must expand urgently in the days ahead”, while the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement appealed for nearly $95 million to provide 100,000 families with food, water and shelter over 18 months.
As the global effort mobilised, friends and foes alike among the Philippines’ neighbours offered assistance, with Taiwan and China promising to put aside their differences to join in the relief effort.
The Australian government pledged Aus$10 million ($9.38 million) in relief, with a team of medics set to leave Wednesday to join disaster experts already on the ground.
Tokyo said it would supply $10 million in grants to provide evacuees with emergency shelters and other assistance, as reports said Japan could be readying to dispatch its self defense forces to help in the relief effort.
About 100 Japanese citizens in the Philippines are still unaccounted for after the typhoon.
Indonesia, another Southeast Asian nation frequently hit by natural disasters, pledged $2 million in cash and emergency supplies, with a Hercules aircraft set to depart Wednesday carrying food, medicines, water filters and generators.