French aid to Philippines in aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan

Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the Philippines on Saturday 9 November, has taken a very heavy toll: the cyclone destroyed 70 to 80% of the regions it crossed in Leyte Province. Ten million people have been affected by this natural disaster; 900,000 people have been displaced; more than 150,000 houses have been destroyed or damaged. The sectors most devastated by Typhoon Yolanda are Tacloban and the islands of Samar and Leyte, where the cyclone first struck. The devastated areas are very extensive and include many islands. A state of national calamity has been declared and the international community has been spurred into action.

On 9 November the French President and the Foreign Minister expressed our solidarity with the Filipino people hit by Typhoon Haiyan and said France would play an active role.

France’s action:

Humanitarian efforts

While the central needs identified by the international assessments are logistical support, food, access to water and sanitation, clearing debris and protecting the most vulnerable, it is still proving difficult to transport aid to the people of Tacloban, the area worst hit.

To face up to the tragedy, France immediately decided to send humanitarian aid to the area:

- the Foreign Ministry sent 10 tonnes of humanitarian cargo on a flight which arrived in Cebu on Tuesday. The cargo is being handled by a team from the French Embassy in Manila. The cargo of some 10 tonnes comprises tents, tarpaulins, cooking equipment and jerrycans;

- two senior sécurité civile [emergency services including rescue, firefighting and medical services] officers left Paris yesterday and have been made available to our embassy in Manila. They are tasked with coordinating the distribution of the French humanitarian aid and assessing the situation on the ground.

- Several NGOs and the French Red Cross are already in the area to assess the needs and take part in the rescue operations. On Tuesday a first group of Pompiers de l’urgence international [French emergency relief organization] was able to reach Tacloban. The Veolia and Eurocopter Foundations are also providing material support from their regional subsidiaries.

- in Paris, the Foreign Ministry Crisis Centre is coordinating the voluntary contributions. Several volunteer firefighting teams have come forward. Various local authorities have started mobilizing too (Paris City Hall has announced a donation of €100,000 to the NGO Action against Hunger, the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Region has offered its assistance). A consultation meeting between the main French humanitarian voluntary organizations and NGOs is scheduled for today, Wednesday. A meeting with the main local authorities involved in humanitarian assistance to the Philippines will take place on Thursday afternoon.

- in the very next few days, a sécurité civile detachment will be dispatched to the disaster areas to help with the organization of rescue efforts and operations to get infrastructure up and running again. Furthermore, the Foreign Ministry Crisis Centre, in conjunction with the Filipino authorities, the United Nations and the European Union, is currently identifying an additional humanitarian contribution which it should be mobilizing very soon.

Security efforts

- to come to the aid of our compatriots and their families, the Foreign Ministry Crisis Centre opened a crisis management unit on Saturday. Working in close liaison with our embassy in Manilla and the Filipino authorities, it is counting the number of people about whom we still have no news and our compatriots in difficulty in order to provide them with assistance. This task is being complicated by the destruction of communication networks and means of communication;

- in the Philippines, where roughly 2,300 of our compatriots are registered as living, a crisis management unit was activated at the embassy on Friday evening. The embassy’s website is passing on safety messages to the French community. Three safety messages have been texted to nationals on short stays, registered with Ariane [a free online service enabling French nationals to declare their trips abroad]. At this stage, no French casualties have been reported.

Published on 14/11/2013

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