Kerry: Devastation in PH unlike anything I've ever seen

by Kathlyn dela Cruz, ABS-CBNnews.com

Dec. 18, 2013

MANILA (UPDATED) — US Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday announced that the United States is giving an additional aid package of $24.6 million for the recovery efforts in areas hit by super typhoon “Yolanda.”

Kerry, who visited Tacloban to personally see the devastation wrought by the massive typhoon, said in his speech that the US is committed in helping the Philippines recover.

The $24.6 million aid package is on top of the $62 million humanitarian aid earlier provided by the US, which is a long-time military ally of the Philippines.

The US also sent an aircraft carrier group and committed 1,000 Marines to help in the immediate rehabilitation efforts in the typhoon-hit areas.

“The United States is committed in doing whatever we can as we go forward to try to help our friends in the Philippines to recover,” Kerry said.

“The new aid is calculated to help ensure that the residents and the relief workers have immediate access to clean water, to sanitation and to hygiene services, and also to make sure that they get food and temporary shelter,” he added.

On behalf of US President Barack Obama and the American people, Kerry also offered his condolences to the families of the disaster victims, noting that the devastation wrought by the typhoon is “unlike anything I have ever seen.”

Yolanda, which struck central Philippines last November 8, left over 6,000 dead, 27,000 wounded and 1,800 missing, mostly from the Eastern Visayas region.

Kerry lauds Pinoys’ resiliency

Kerry also lauded the Filipino people for their “remarkable efforts” in responding to the disaster, saying that their resilience, courage and determination to get back on their feet have inspired the whole world.

“This is the best demonstration of humanity and of common love and sense of responsibility that people feel for each other.”

“Last month’s typhoon broke the world’s heart, but what is certain is that it didn’t break the spirit of the people here,” he said.

During his visit to Tacloban, which was one of the worst-hit areas, Kerry also checked the Department of Social Welfare and Development hub where the relief goods were taken.

He also went to the tent city where hundreds of families are still staying.

Kerry also praised social entrepreneur Illac Diaz for his efforts in providing low-cost renewable solar lights to the typhoon survivors.

Years ago, Diaz was given by the US Embassy a grant to develop the project, Kerry said.

“We are very proud of how he put that funding into good use…Thanks to his hard work and kindness, a lot more lights are gonna be on their way to reach people in this community,” he said.

Kerry, who is on his second day of visit in the Philippines, will return to the US within the day. — with Agence France-Presse

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