US $24.6M boost humanitarian aid to typhoon-afflicted areas

Visiting United States Secretary of State John Kerry leads the wreath-laying ceremony at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in Taguig on Tuesday (Dec. 17, 2013). Photo credit: Benhur Arcayan/Malacañang Photo Bureau/PNA

TACLOBAN CITY, Dec. 18 –United States government boosted its humanitarian aid to typhoon-afflicted areas of the Philippines with an additional US$24.6 million on top of its $ 62 million already been provided.

US Secretary of State John Kerry during his visit here Wednesday underscored the additional assistance to be coursed through the United States Agency for International Development would be utilized to “ensure that the residents and relief workers have immediate access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene services.”

In his message delivered at the tent city established by the USAID at the Alimasag district of this city, he emphasized the commitment of USA to help in whatever way the typhoon survivors as they move towards recovery.

“On behalf of President (Barack) Obama and American people, it is my privilege to come here today to offer our condolences to the families of the more than 6,000 who perished in the storm and to wish a very full and speedy recovery to some 27,000 who (are) wounded and we are keeping in our thoughts and prayers the nearly 1,800 people who still remain missing,” he said.

In addition, he also announced that a memorandum of understanding has already been signed between USAID, Procter and Gamble and Coca-Cola aimed at helping some 2,000 small convenience stores in their rehabilitation.

The Citi Foundation raised million for the recovery effort and contributed another $.5 million to help Philippine rebuild, he disclosed.

Kerry, who arrived at the Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport on board a private plane past 10:00 a.m. accompanied by US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg, also visited the relief hub of the Department of Social Welfare and Development along Apitong road.

In his message, he described what he saw as “really quite stunning; it looks like a war zone in every respect.”

“The wreckage that has been left behind by typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) is absolutely staggering. This is a devastation that is unlike anything I’ve seen at this kind of scale. Its many small tornadoes that I have seen in America wrapped into one,” he said.

Nonetheless, he underscored the resiliency of Filipinos to be able to get back on their feet after the catastrophe. He also lauded several individuals, groups and private organizations that joined forces together to respond to the calamity.

“Last month’s typhoon broke the world’s heart. But what is certain is it didn’t break the spirit of the people here. The resilience, the courage, the determination to rebuild and to remake what was inspires all of us. And the truth is what has happened here since the moment the storm passed away is inspiring everybody,” he said.

He added that in the past weeks, the Philippines and United States have jointly “answered one of the world’s challenges mother nature provides.”

Kerry said that they will be watching and working closely with the Philippine government as it laid down its plans on rebuilding the areas affected by the typhoon.

“The United States will remain committed, we will work closely with our friends from the Philippines rebuild this region even better and stronger and safer,” he said.

Kerry, who stayed in Tacloban for more than two hours, was met upon his arrival at the airport by Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Cuisia Jr, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Leyte first district Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and Tacloban City mayor Alfred Romualdez. (PNA)

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