Int’l aid for ‘Ompong’ aftermath flows as PH starts relief efforts

MANILA — The United States and Australian government on Sunday announced the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the Philippines after Typhoon Ompong battered northern Luzon on Saturday.

In a statement, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said Canberra will provide the Philippines humanitarian supplies for the emergency response, including sleeping mats, blankets, hygiene and shelter kits, for up to 25,000 people in the most-affected areas.

Payne said Australia’s contribution of supplies, worth 800,000 Australian dollars, will be distributed by the Philippine Red Cross.

Meanwhile, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) relayed the provision of 1,000 metric tons of rice to northern Luzon, through the United Nations World Food Programme (UNWFP).

“With USAID/OFDA disaster risk reduction support, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) is coordinating with DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) to provide humanitarian logistics support for Super Typhoon Ompong response activities, including transporting 1,000 metric tons of rice to be used in emergency food parcels for storm-affected populations in northern Luzon,” a statement from the US Embassy in Manila read.

It added that the UN WFP also helped improve the government’s response readiness for the storm by pre-positioning generators, storage tents, and other logistics equipment in WFP warehouses in Luzon.

Additional humanitarian teams

Meanwhile, Save the Children Philippines is also sending two more humanitarian teams to typhoon-ravaged towns in northern Luzon to assess the situation and deliver emergency kits as the affected, composed mostly of children and lactating mothers, are camped in evacuation sites.

Prior to this, the organization has deployed a five-member emergency team to Santiago, Luzon, ahead of the storm’s arrival.

Save the Children Philippines CEO Albert Muyot said the typhoon has devastated homes of farmers in agricultural regions and inundated their farmlands.

“We expect the devastation is extensive and prolonged, knowing that many of the affected families are poor farmers who will no longer be able to harvest crops due to massive flooding,” he said.

Save the Children humanitarian teams will closely coordinate with local and national government agencies to distribute emergency supplies, such as household kits, hygiene kits, as well as plastic sheets for temporary shelter.

As of Sept. 16, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported that a total of 70,183 families from several regions in the Philippines have been affected by the storm, of which 39,824 are being served inside and outside evacuation centers. Joyce Ann L. Rocamora/