U.S. military scales down aid efforts in Philippines

People walk past body bags in Tacloban, Philippines. Credit: Reuters
People walk past body bags in Tacloban, Philippines.
Credit: Reuters

The U.S. military has began scaling back its emergency relief operations in the Philippines as work shifts to recovery and rehabilitation in typhoon-hit areas, a U.S. aid agency official said on Saturday.

Typhoon Haiyan, the most powerful storm to make landfall this year, struck the central Philippines on November 8, killing more than 5,200 people, displacing 4.4 million and destroying an estimated 12 billion pesos ($274 million) worth of crops and infrastructure.

The U.S. Navy has pulled out its nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the USS George Washington, but still has ten C-130 aircraft delivering relief supplies. Last week, the United States had 50 ships and aircraft in the disaster zone.

Jeremy Konyndyk, director for Foreign Disaster Assistance at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), said the U.S. military had started to reduce its presence to allow civilian aid agencies to step up efforts.

“What we have seen, particularly over the past week, is now civilian and private-sector commercial capacity has started coming back up again and that is taking the burden off of the military actors,” Konyndyk told Reuters in an interview.

“You don’t want the military playing that role in the long run, they are an interim bridging capacity there, but in the long run, that really needs to be civilian role.”

Konyndyk said there had been significant progress in meeting people’s basic needs as more roads and ports opened in the worst-hit Leyte and Samar islands.

“Food has been distributed to 3 million people, shelter kits have been delivered to tens of thousands of families. I think the situation with immediate humanitarian needs is becoming stabilized.”

Aid delivery was gathering pace as access to affected areas improved, the U.N. humanitarian office said it its latest report. However, major issues remained including the distribution of food and access to clean water and shelter material.

Konyndyk said the next step was for USAID and other international aid agencies to refocus their efforts on long-term recovery and reconstruction, giving priority to shelter and livelihoods for farmers and fishermen.

The United States has increased its typhoon aid to nearly $52 million, but latest estimates from the United Nations showed the disaster rehabilitation plan would cost $348 million. Only 38 percent of the plan is funded.

The United Nations is working to finish a blueprint for a Haiyan Action Plan reconstruction strategy by December 9. The World Bank has increased to almost $1 billion its aid to support relief and reconstruction.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

National

Chelsea Clinton pregnant with first child

Chelsea Clinton is pregnant with her first child.

National

Divers struggle in search for South Korean ferry…

By Jungmin Jang and Narae KimMOKPO/JINDO, South Korea (Reuters) - Rescuers struggled with strong waves and murky waters on Thursday as they searched for hundreds…

National

New Hampshire moves to decriminalize adultery

For the first time in hundreds of years, it's about to be legal to cheat on your spouse in New Hampshire.

Television

Dick Wolf to bring fictionalized world of 'Law…

A&E has ordered a pilot called "D.O.A." from "Law and Order" mastermind Dick Wolf that will focus on real detectives reexamining cold cases. A trio…

Movies

Review: 'Transcendence' is not stupid but sometimes lacks…

The cyberthriller "Transcendence" explores artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and other ethical quandaries, but has too much ambition, if anything.

Television

Shane West talks WGN America's 'Salem'

The actor on history lessons, a new network and showing his butt.

Music

Both feet on the ground with Aimee Mann…

What began with a cool double-bill of Ted Leo opening for Aimee Mann morphed into a full-fledged collaborative project that they're calling The Both. “There…

Sports

2014 Boston Marathon preview: Elite American, International runners…

2014 Boston Marathon: Elite American, International runners to watch

NBA

2014 NBA Finals odds: Ranking which playoff teams…

2014 NBA Finals odds: Ranking which playoff teams have the best shot at a championship. The Thunder, Clippers, Heat and Rockets lead the way.

NFL

2014 Patriots, full NFL schedule release date announced

2014 Patriots, full NFL schedule release date announced

NBA

Fantasy basketball: Finding next year's NBA studs

Before we put the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.

Travel

Earth Day travel in the Florida Keys

See why this eco-friendly destination deserves your attention.

Tech

Sorry, Facebook — FarmVille goes mobile with 'Country…

Zynga has released a version of the hit "FarmVille" tailored for smartphones and tablets in the hope of reaping a bumper crop of players.