Gov’t vows $5M in Philippine aid

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Gov’t vows $5M in Philippine aid

The government said yesterday it will donate $5 million in aid for the untold thousands of Filipinos in dire need of food, water, medicine and shelter following the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan.

It will also dispatch a 40-person relief team, including 20 medical workers, upon the request of the Philippine government, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday. The aid was donated taking into consideration “the seriousness of the damages incurred from Typhoon Haiyan,” said the ministry.

The team will join an initial emergency group on the ground in Cebu, which is working on initial relief efforts and is trying to locate Koreans who have been reported missing. The number of Koreans reported missing has fallen since early reports.

“The aid decision has been made considering the seriousness of human and economic damage from the typhoon and our old and close bilateral relationship,” the ministry said.

The Ministry of National Defense said yesterday it has prepared two C-130 military transport aircraft to transfer supplies to the Philippines, including food, blankets and tents.

An initial emergency response team of five people, including rescue workers and a doctor, were sent to Cebu on Monday, the closest landing point to Tacloban, the capital of the eastern province of Leyte and probably the hardest-hit city.

The Foreign Ministry said that as of yesterday morning some 10 Koreans are described as missing. On Monday, there was a tentative report of 40 missing Koreans, but the ministry found that seven names were repeated and the list shrunk to 33. It then confirmed the whereabouts of 23 of the Koreans reported missing, who were safe.

President Park Geun-hye expressed condolences yesterday for the immense loss of life and property damage caused by Typhoon Haiyan, known as Yolanda within the Philippines. At the National Assembly, Prime Minister Chung Hong-won said, “Our government will put all efforts into aid.” He also vowed to locate all missing Korean nationals.

Korea joins countries including Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States and Indonesia in offering relief efforts, along with international organizations.

The official death toll provided by the Philippine government as of yesterday is over 1,700, but thousands remain missing, and as many as 10,000 are feared to have perished in Leyte Province alone. The storm displaced over 650,000 people in the archipelago nation comprised of thousands of islands.

The Philippine government said yesterday that 2.5 million people need food aid. The population of the Philippines is 104 million.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III declared a state of national calamity and said his government had set aside some $433 million for recovery.

Sebastien Sujobert, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Tacloban, said in a statement that “basic services such as drinking water and electricity have been cut off,” and that extensive damage to infrastructure made communication between relief workers and those in need of aid difficult.

Korean civilian groups and companies have also begun activities to support relief efforts, such as the Korea NGO Council for Overseas Development Cooperation, which pledged $1 million in aid to the Philippines yesterday. Samsung Group said it will donate $1 million and plans to send a volunteer group.

The Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism said it will donate 100 million won ($93,000) in aid and other support.

The Korean government has consistently provided aid for large-scale disaster relief. It provided $5 million following Hurricane Katrina in the U.S. in 2005 and $5.5 million in aid to China following the May 2008 Great Sichuan Earthquake.

Following the Haiti earthquake in January 2010, Korea donated $12.5 million. Korea donated $50 million after the December 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.


BY SARAH KIM [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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