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.
China, where seven people were reported killed by the typhoon, is to give $100,000 towards the aid effort, with state-run Global Times newspaper saying Tuesday that a territorial row between China and the Philippines should not affect such decisions.
“It’s a must to aid typhoon victims in the Philippines,” the paper, which is close to the ruling Communist party, said in an editorial. “China’s international image is of vital importance to its interests. If it snubs Manila this time, China will suffer great losses”, it added.
And despite a diplomatic row triggered by the fatal shooting of a 65-year-old crew member of a Taiwanese fishing boat on May 9 by a Filipino coastguard patrol, Taiwan sent two C-130 Hercules transport aircraft carrying relief goods and pledged $200,000 in cash.
Vietnam, itself faced with mass evacuations as a weakened Haiyan swung through its territory Monday, has offered aid worth $100,000 and vowed to stand by the Philippine people.
The Philippine Red Cross on Tuesday issued a heartfelt thanks for the international support directed at the country.
“We can only say that we love you for all the things you have done for us and are doing for us,” Corazon Alma G. De Leon, secretary of the board of governors told a press conference in Sydney.
Other aid mobilized includes:
— South Korea approved five million dollars in emergency aid and dispatched a 40-member team including medical personnel and rescuers to Tacloban, its foreign ministry said. Samsung Group donated one million dollars through international aid groups.
— The European Commission said it would give three million euros ($4 million) toward relief efforts.
— Germany’s embassy in Manila said an initial shipment of 23 tons of aid was being flown in and German rescue teams were already at work.
— Japan is sending a disaster relief and medical team of 25 people, while Malaysia also readied a relief crew and Singapore offered cash aid.
— New Zealand increased its humanitarian relief to NZ$2.15 million ($1.78 million), while Canada has promised up to $5 million to aid organizations.
— UN children’s fund UNICEF sent a cargo plane carrying 60 tons of aid including shelters and medical kits while refugee agency UNHCR organized an airlift.
— The ASEAN Coordinating Center for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management will send an initial $500,000 in aid from Subang, Malaysia.
— Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) said it was sending 200 tons of aid including medicine, tents and hygiene kits to arrive mid-week.