De­bris, de­struc­tion slow flow of aid

U.S. sends car­rier; U.N. calls for cash

The Washington Times Daily - - World - BY ASHISH KU­MAR SEN THE WASH­ING­TON TIMES

Food, wa­ter and med­i­cal sup­plies trick­led into hard-hit ar­eas of the Philip­pines on Tues­day, as the U.S. dis­patched an air­craft car­rier group to lend aid and the U.N. ap­pealed for $301 mil­lion in emer­gency as­sis­tance to help sur­vivors of Typhoon Haiyan, which killed at least 2,000 peo­ple.

The typhoon, which made land­fall Fri­day in the cen­tral Philip­pines and is thought to be one of the most pow­er­ful storms to ever hit land, de­stroyed roads, swamped build­ings, downed power lines and crip­pled the small air­port in the coastal city of Ta­cloban.

“The ac­cess chal­lenges are a huge ob­sta­cle right now,” said Jeremy Konyn­dyk, di­rec­tor of the U.S. Agency for In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment’s for­eign dis­as­ter as­sis­tance of­fice.

In Manila, U.N. hu­man­i­tar­ian chief Valerie Amos said res­cuers “have not been able to get into the re­mote com­mu­ni­ties.”

The U.N. is launch­ing an ap­peal for $301 mil­lion to help the more than 11 mil­lion peo­ple es­ti­mated to be af­fected by the storm.

“Even in Ta­cloban, be­cause of the de­bris and the dif­fi­cul­ties with lo­gis­tics and so on, we have not been able to get in the level of sup­ply that we would want to. We are go­ing to do as much as we can to bring in more,” Ms. Amos said. Her of­fice said she plans to visit the city.

Many sur­vivors, in­clud­ing those in­jured by the storm, have crowded into Ta­cloban’s air­port hop­ing for an op­por­tu­nity to be evacuated.

Not­ing the storm de­bris and wrecked ve­hi­cles, Mr. Konyn­dyk said “there just aren’t that many ways into Ta­cloban city for an aid pipe­line … We are pri­mar­ily de­pen­dent on the air­port, which is dam­aged and has lim­ited ca­pac­ity even un­der the best of cir­cum­stances.”

“Per­haps the most ur­gent need is [air] lift,” said Pa­trick Cronin, se­nior di­rec­tor of the Asia pro­gram at the Center for a New Amer­i­can Se­cu­rity in Wash­ing­ton. “The Philip­pines lacks the abil­ity to reach re­mote and dis­parate ar­eas quickly and with large quan­ti­ties of sup­plies.”

Ed­win Lacierda, spokesman for Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Benigno S. Aquino III, said relief goods are get­ting into the city, and the sup­ply should in­crease now that the air­port and a bridge to the is­land were open.

“We are not go­ing to leave one per­son be­hind — one liv­ing per­son be­hind,” he said. “We will help, no mat­ter how dif­fi­cult, no mat­ter how in­ac­ces­si­ble.”

Ta­cloban, a city of about 220,000 peo­ple on Leyte is­land, bore the full force of the winds and the tsunami­like storm surges. Most of the city is in ru­ins, a tan­gled mess of de­stroyed houses, cars and trees. Malls, garages and shops have all been stripped of food and wa­ter by hun­gry res­i­dents.

De­fense Sec­re­tary Chuck Hagel has or­dered the air­craft car­rier USS Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton, which was in Hong Kong on a port visit, to the Philip­pines. The air­craft car­rier is ac­com­pa­nied by the cruis­ers USS An­ti­etam and USS Cow­pens, and the de­stroyer USS Mustin. The sup­ply ship USNS Charles Drew is also on its way to the re­gion, as is USS Lassen.

Mr. Hagel or­dered the ships to make the “best speed for the Philip­pines,” said Pen­tagon spokesman Ge­orge Lit­tle. The ships are not ex­pected to ar­rive in the re­gion un­til Thurs­day.

The USS Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton is car­ry­ing more than 80 air­craft ca­pa­ble of pro­vid­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance.

In ad­di­tion, the Pen­tagon could send thou­sands of Marines to help re­cov­ery ef­forts. Cur­rently, about 300 Marines are pro­vid­ing dis­as­ter relief, but that num­ber could grow to as many as 2,000 or more in the days to come, a se­nior Ma­rine of­fi­cial said on back­ground.

So far, Marines have de­liv­ered 107,000 pounds of relief sup­plies to the Philip­pines, in­clud­ing potable wa­ter, food, shel­ter, hy­giene prod­ucts and med­i­cal sup­plies.

The U.S. also is pro­vid­ing $20 mil­lion in im­me­di­ate aid through USAID.

“The re­mote and dis­persed ter­rain and the ut­ter de­struc­tive ca­pac­ity of this typhoon will fully tax the U.S. and in­ter­na­tional re­sponse,” said Mr. Cronin, who served as the third-rank­ing of­fi­cial at USAID in the Ge­orge W. Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion.


Sur­vivors wait in line for relief goods on a flooded road at typhoon-rav­aged Ta­cloban in cen­tral Philip­pines on Tues­day.

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