Torrential rains came non-stop, leaving the country’s capital submerged in floodwaters, and a community still reeling from yet another deluge of problems. But foreign allies and friends of the Philippines quickly responded to assist its calamity-stricken ally, shortly after the country’s capital and its neighboring areas left wading in floodwaters at the height of the southwest monsoon rains that brought havoc to Metro Manila.
The European Union, Australia, the United States, Canada, Israel and several other international and local organizations have expressed their sympathies to the country and to all those who have been displaced and have lost their loved ones. They, too, poured in substantial amounts of money to help in the relief efforts of the government.
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) received a generous grant of Au$1 million (approximately Php43.8 million) from the Australian government to significantly boost WFP’s contingency food stocks for enhanced disaster response capacity in the Philippines. The contribution, made through AusAID, will be used to dispatch rice to flood-affected people.
The European Union, for its part, is allocating 700,000 euros (Over Php38million) to support the emergency response and provide relief to the families affected by floods in the Philippines.
Lubomir Frebort, Chargé d’Affaires of the EU Delegation to the Philippines, said that the European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis response announced the release of aid following the report of the assessment team’s visit to the affected areas. The funds will be used primarily for distribution of relief items, water and sanitation, debris clean-up, food assistance, shelter support and medical aid.
The U.S. also initially provided US$100,000 (Php4.3 million) to support disaster relief efforts in Metro Manila. U.S. Ambassador Harry Thomas issued a disaster declaration shortly after reports of widespread flooding in the National Capital Region, and offered to provide immediate relief assistance.
Canada, through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), handed its initial contribution of Php2.1 milllion to support relief efforts for flood victims.
Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines Christopher Thornley expressed Canada’s condolences to the people of the Philippines: “On behalf of all Canadians, I extend my deepest sympathies to the families and friends who have lost loved ones or are otherwise affected by the latest devastating rains. Canada stands ready to assist the Philippines in times of need.”
WFP Representative and Country Director Stephen Anderson said, “WFP is actively supporting efforts of the government of the Philippines to prepare for and mitigate the effects of natural disasters at both national and local levels” Anderson added.
“The Australian Government is providing these items to the World Food Programme so that they can be drawn upon immediately in serious situations, such as this massive flooding…,” Australian Ambassador Bill Tweddell said.
Australia is among the top donors to the WFP globally and has also provided generous support for WFP’s disaster preparedness and response initiatives in the Philippines, the WFP said. The Australian ambassador expressed concern for those families who had been without a home for up to two weeks. “We’re providing $1 million to WFP and we’re backing that up with nearly $1 million made available to the Red Cross for those in need,” he said.
Beyond Financial Aid
Like committed allies, several envoys from countries assured the Philippines its support and assistance to help the government in its efforts in managing the crisis.
The U.S. through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) conducted an initial damage assessment in the metro and its neighboring provinces to determine the extent of damage caused by massive flooding.
As part of its disaster preparedness program in the Philippines, Australia works with partners to pre-position emergency supplies, which enables a rapid response to natural disasters and emergencies, the Australian Embassy said.
The U.S., EU, Australia and Canada have been key partners of the Philippines in providing immediate humanitarian response during natural calamities.
The State of Israel, through its embassy in Manila, also donated sacks of rice, instant noodles and canned goods to assist the people from Caloocan currently recovering from the effects of the calamity. Several embassies such as Japan likewise offered assistance.
Meanwhile, the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), one of the most influential business groups in the Philippines says it will cancel its annual festive Christmas party this year and instead, will donate Php500,000 to help in the relief efforts of flood victims, saying that “we felt the needs of our countrymen were much greater.” MAP president Eduardo V. Francisco said in an email that whatever will be raised from the MAP Fund Drive will be divided equally to three organizations—ABS-CBN, GMA and TV5. The donation will be coursed through the Corporate Network for Disaster Response.
With reports from Agnes M. Abrau
WFP photos by Anthony Lim