US increases Philippine typhoon aid
TACLOBAN - The United States pledged an additional $10 million in aid on Monday to help the Philippines recover in the aftermath of super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).
This brings the total US humanitarian aid to more than $37 million.
USAID's Nancy Lindborg during a briefing in Tacloban City airport confirmed the increase.
"President Obama said we were here and that more help was coming so I'm pleased to announce today an additional 10 million dollars that will bring the U.S. commitment to 37 million dollars and this will enable us to continue to move ahead with our help on things like the water system, on the logistics," she said.
"You know, from the perspective of people who have lost everything aid never gets there fast enough, but things moved pretty quickly here. I mean, we had people, supplies prepositioned in front of the storm, we were working with the government, things started flowing on Sunday and Monday," she said.
About 50 U.S. ships and aircraft have been mobilized in the disaster zone, including 10 C-130 transport planes, 12 V-22 Ospreys and 14 Sea Hawk helicopters air-dropping supplies from an aircraft carrier.
As U.S. ships deliver food, water and medicine, they are also delivering goodwill that could ease the way for the United States to strengthen its often-controversial military presence in one of Southeast Asia's most strategic countries.
The Philippines is one of Washington's closest allies in Asia and a crucial partner in President Barack Obama's strategy to rebalance U.S. military forces towards the region to counter the rising influence of China.
The United States sent the nuclear-powered USS George Washington aircraft carrier to lead relief efforts after Typhoon Haiyan killed at least 3,900 people on November 8, leaving many survivors dazed and without food a water for days.
The United States and the Philippines are in the middle of negotiations to increase a rotational presence of U.S. forces in the country, deploying aircraft, ships, supplies and troops for humanitarian and maritime security operations.
The widening military cooperation, that includes the use of local bases for temporary deployment, signals rapidly warming security relations after Manila put an end to U.S. military bases in 1992. Manila later allowed the return of American troops for training and joint exercises. The new agreement is expected to expand these activities.