Kerry: $24.6M more for Yolanda rehab
TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – US Secretary of State John Kerry announced an additional pledge of $24.6 million (approximately Php 1.1 billion) for recovery and rehabilitation efforts in areas hardest hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), during a visit to storm-ravaged Tacloban City on Wednesday, December 18.
The pledge announced by the United States' top diplomat is on top of aid already provided by the US government and aid agencies.
"I'm proud to announce here in Tacloban today that the United States through the USAid is providing an additional $26.4M in humanitarian aid now," he said.
"This is on top of the $62M that we have already provided and we are mindful that there is a donor conference taking place even as we are here today, and we will watch and work closely with the government to make further determinations as plans are laid out and as the future is defined by the government of the Philippines."
The new pledge will be used primarily to ensure residents and relief workers have immediate access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene services as well as food and temporary shelter.
'Like a warzone'
In a speech shortly after he landed in Tacloban, Kerry spoke of how the typhoon's devastation was "stunning," "staggering," unlike anything he'd seen on its scale.
There were really no words, he said, to describe the magnitude of Haiyan's impact.
"It looks like a war zone in every respect," he said, "and in many ways for a lot of people it is. You have to see this to really believe it and to feel it and understand it."
Kerry offered condolonces to the casualties of the storm in behalf of President Barack Obama and the American people and wished for a speedy recovery for the more than 27,000 people woulded. Their thoughts and prayers. he said, are also with the 1,800 still missing more than a month after the typhoon.
Kerry praised the resilience and strength of the typhoon survivors. "Last month’s typhoon broke the world’s heart, but what is certain is that it didn’t break the spirit of the people here." He called it the "best demonstration of humanity and of common love and sense of responsibility that people see for each other."
He also praised the coordinated efforts of the United States and the Philippine government, and called it "the enduring partnership of two allies, not only in good times, but in trying times as well."
The United States, he said, will continue to help in the recovery efforts for "as long as it takes."
His visit to the devastated Eastern Visayas city highlights the massive US humanitarian response to the disaster, in contrast to the response by regional superpower China.
The United States, the former colonial power in the Philippines, has been the greatest contributor of aid following the typhoon which left nearly 8,000 dead or missing, and four million people homeless.
Washington deployed an aircraft carrier group and committed 1,000 Marines and $20 million in a mobilization that served as a preview of an intensified defense engagement deal being hammered out by the US and the Philippines.
The city is his latest stop in a trip that has brought him from Israel to Vietnam, then to the Philippines. – With reports from Patricia Evangelista and the Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com