Haiyan Relief: UN Instructs U.S. Marines to Keep Relief Goods Away from Philippine Officials
By Reissa Su | November 14, 2013 4:25 PM EST
Typhoon Haiyan, locally known as Yolanda, left the central part of the Philippines devastated with an official death toll of 3,600 as of Nov. 16 (new update) and 600,000 people displaced, according to authorities. Countries and various organisations around the world sent donations, medical and military personnel to aid ongoing relief operations.
As international aid continues to pour for the Philippines, the country's Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has confirmed that most of the donations will not be handed over to Philippine government agencies.
In an interview on Nov 13, DFA spokesperson Raul Hernandez said all international monetary donors will be coursing money through relief organisations, foundations and charitable institutions. The DFA will serve as the first contact of countries and international organisations that has pledged to donate. It will then pass the information to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and other related agencies involved in relief operations.
Some donors have reportedly began handing out relief goods to affected communities while others gave their in-kind donations to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the NDRRMC.
The U.S. Marines were reportedly instructed not to let Philippine government officials and politicians touch the relief goods that will arrive in Samar. Five C130 panes are scheduled to arrive, carrying relief goods from the United Nations. The alleged reports came from those in the disaster zone and has since gone viral in social media networks.
Six days after one of the strongest typhoons ever recorded hit the cities and towns in central region of the Philippines, survivors became increasingly frustrated with the government's slow response to distribute badly needed food and water.
Death toll controversy
President Benigno Aquino said in a press briefing that local officials had overstated the number of deaths. The embattled president said the official tally was closer to 2,500 rather than the 10,000 intially reported. Aid workers in the devastated areas became skeptical of Mr Aquino's comments.
There have been reports and footage of near anarchy as some people resorted to looting warehouses and shops to find food, water and supplies. Eight people were crushed to death when alleged looters decided to raid a government stockpile of rice in the town of Alangalang.
Tacloban City Administrator Tecson John Lim said 90 per cent of the city had been destroyed and only 20 per cent of survivors have received relief goods. Mr Lim said the "looters" should not be treated as criminals since the people are growing desperate for food and water. He said the people had to do something for survival and self-preservation.
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