International aid pours in for communities affected by ‘Ruby’

By , on December 8, 2014

Members of the Philippine Air Force assist in the repacking of relief goods at the DSWD NROC. (Photo via the Philippine Air Force)
Members of the Philippine Air Force assist in the repacking of relief goods at the DSWD NROC. (Photo via the Philippine Air Force)

MANILA — International humanitarian aid is pouring in for communities affected by Typhoon Ruby as the Philippine government determines the scale of damage from the storm, which is now headed towards Central Luzon.

Several casualties have been reported in the Visayas, where Ruby first made landfall on Saturday, but Philippine authorities have yet to provide an official tally of fatalities and injured.

The Australian government on Monday said it is providing 800 metric tons of rice to support families affected by the typhoon also known by its international name, Hagupit.

Australia said it will be delivered through its pre-positioned supplies with the United Nations’ World Food Program (WFP).

In addition, Australia has deployed officials to the affected areas to make further assessments of the damage and to coordinate any further Australian consular and humanitarian assistance.

“Australia extends its sympathies and support to the people of Philippines affected by Typhoon Hagupit,” Australian Ambassador Bill Tweddel said.

Ruby came only 12 months after Typhoon Yolanda made a deadly sweep across Central Philippines, killing more than 7,000 people. Yolanda, also known as Haiyan, is the strongest recorded storm in history.

“Australia is a good friend of the Philippines and stands ready to help as required,” Tweddell said. “Australia is working closely with the Philippine government and international partners to obtain more information on the impact of the typhoon as it makes its way across the archipelago.

The World Food Programme, for its part, is providing transportation and food supplies to support the Philippine government’s humanitarian response.

“We are working flat-out to support the Government in this response,” said Praveen Agrawal, WFP Philippines Country Director. “Food, trucks or satphones – we will provide whatever is needed to help the people of the Philippines as this situation unfolds.”

Supplies are being readied for deployment to Eastern Visayas and Bicol regions to rapidly assist in the immediate aftermath of the calamity, Agrawal said.

The aid agency, he said, has its own food stocks in the country if government supplies need to be supplemented. WFP, he said, currently has available more than 260 metric tons of high energy biscuits, almost 4,000 MT of rice, and over 130 MT of ready-to-use supplementary food.

These food stocks could provide assistance to about 1.8 million people for a two-week period, Agrawal said.

Stocks have been strategically stored in Manila, Cebu, and Cotabato, and staff have been deployed to set up a base in Tacloban. Logistics equipment has also been put in place ahead of time in the potential operational areas.

The United States, on the other hand, said it is closely coordinating with Philippine officials and stands ready to provide assistance at their request and under their guidance.

Assessment teams from both the USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance and the US military are available to augment the US embassy in Manila’s capabilities monitoring the storm’s impact and coordinating delivery of emergency assistance with government agencies and humanitarian organizations on the ground.

Canada also said it is prepared to support relief efforts and provide humanitarian assistance as required.Its embassy in Manila said the Canadian government has relief supplies ready to be deployed, while the Canadian Armed Forces are pre-deploying assets toward the region to facilitate an expeditious response if necessary.

An inter-departmental Canadian strategic support team, the embassy said, is also readying for rapid deployment to the Philippines.

“The team’s mandate will be to undertake rapid assessment of the typhoon’s impact and make early recommendations on how Canada can support those in need and help the government of the Philippines to address the immediate impacts of the disaster,” it said.

Canadian officials, the embassy said, are in touch with Philippine authorities as it monitors the impact of the typhoon.