The tropical cyclone Haiyan, one of the strongest cyclone’s ever recorded, hit the Philippines on November 7th and 8th causing widespread damage. The United Nations estimates that 11.3 million people are affected, and the death toll continues to rise.
Unfortunately, natural disasters frequently haunt the Philippines. This past October, the Philippines was hit by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake, leaving a path of destruction which affected over 350,000 people.
The European Commission is working diligently to increase the amount of emergency aid to help the country of Philippines to rebuild in the aftermath of the massive cyclone. During her visit to the country, Kristalina Georgieva, the European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, announced that an additional $7 million would be added in humanitarian aid totaling $20 million. Member States have also contributed around $25 million in aid.
The Commission’s humanitarian assistance organizations include the World Food Program, the International Federation of the Red Cross, OCHA and Telecoms Sans Frontières. The aid given to affected areas includes food assistance, clean water, emergency shelter, health services, transportation, logistics and communication. These funds ensure that the survivors are given the necessities required to move forward amidst the destruction.
Commissioner Georgieva said, “We have all seen the tragic devastation inflicted by this typhoon and … today I am personally delivering a message of European solidarity. We are standing by all the victims with immediate, large-scale assistance. The priorities now are restoring access to devastated parts of the Philippines and the urgent delivery of life-saving assistance. It is also imperative that we coordinate relief efforts so that everyone who needs help will receive it.”
To date, sixteen Member States have sent assistance to the Philippines. Some states like Norway have also contributed aid through the European Civil Protection Mechanism, which is an Emergency Response Coordination Center coordinated by the Commission. The center is responsible for search and rescue teams, doctors, hospitals and other urgently needed experts and equipment. Do you think that sufficient aid is being given to states affected by natural disasters in general? What about in the Philippines?
In recent years, it seems as if every corner of the globe has been hit with devastating natural disasters and many are still rebuilding, several years later. It seems like just when the initial damage is cleared, another disaster occurs. This can affect the long term building efforts and its subsequent effects. These things become ignored when another devastating event occurs. It is important to respond quickly and efficiently, targeting the most vital and important aspects of the distraught society.
Especially with the Philippines’ susceptibility to a variety of natural disasters, it is hard to gauge how much aid is truly sufficient. However, it is good to see the European Commission taking strides to help out with the devastation. What the Philippines should try and do is in their rebuilding efforts following Haiyan, is that they should not only rebuild what they had, but try and rebuild it in a way that prevents such devastating damage in the future.
Taking into consideration the magnitude of the storm, I cannot help but wonder about two more things: allocation and long-term relief. I think the two go hand in hand. Is the tremendous amount of aid being provided to everyone that needs it? I can only imagine the desperate times that the victims must be facing.
Emergency response is the first order of business, of course. And the international community has been very responsive. It has worked quickly to provide aid to the Philippines. I see the figures, there is a LOT of aid going to the Philippines, which is great, but how is it being allocated?
Many have been reported dead out of hunger and desperation. There are also reports about a lack of funds to assist farmers. I think that the rebuilding farms is essential, not just for the economy of the Philippines, but also to ensure that there is a steady source of aid for all of the victims.
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It is truly sad when communities who already face poverty and difficult circumstances are dealt a deathblow like tropical cyclone Haiyan. A storm of epic proportions like this will leave the effected parts of the Philippines changed forever, and the amount of aid given will definitely not be enough. It is one thing when a city such as New York gets hit with a storm, they have the resources and manpower to rebuild bigger and better. Unfortunately, isolated areas of the Philippines are not as lucky, and a difficult situation becomes ever-harder. The best way to help is to have a funding organization oversee and continuously inject money into the effected areas. Large sums right now will help them get back on their feet, but to get to a place where they are truly functional again, it takes long and continuous help. The answer to the question is that the amount of aid is not enough, and the effected will always need more.