• Tue
  • Oct 21, 2014
  • Updated: 12:44pm

Typhoon Haiyan

Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms ever recorded, struck the Philippines in November 2013 with winds of up to 190 mph (305 kph). At least 10,000 people died in one Philippine province alone.

NewsHong Kong
Typhoon Haiyan

HK$40m boost for disaster relief fund approved, ensuring aid for typhoon

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 November, 2013, 9:30pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 November, 2013, 6:02am

The Legislative Council yesterday approved a HK$40 million injection to the government's disaster relief fund to ensure there is enough cash for local charities to help those hit by Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

The decision came as the death toll from one of the world's most powerful storms surged to about 4,000. International aid workers were finally able to set up makeshift hospitals as supplies - including medicine and water flown in by helicopters from a US aircraft carrier - reached remote areas levelled a week ago.

Despite the arrival of aid, concerns remain for survivors.

"We are very, very worried about millions of children," UN Children's Fund spokesman Marixie Mercado said in Geneva.

Speaking at a meeting of Legco's Finance Committee, director of administration Kitty Choi Kit-yu said the cash injection was necessary as the disaster relief fund held only HK$9.31 million, while she understood that three to four organisations were planning to apply for about HK$14 million to help typhoon victims.

Lawmakers worried about how the administration could make sure that the money would not be wasted. Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing cited fears about corruption.

But Choi emphasised the funding would be used only by relief groups, not officials. "We are only adding money to our piggy bank for the charities to apply," Choi said. "And when we scrutinise their proposals, we will look at the timetable of their relief project, where are they doing it, and details such as how many packs of rice, bottles of shampoo … or medicine are they buying."

The funding proposal was approved after 45 lawmakers voted in favour. Non-affiliated pan-democrat Wong Yuk-man voted against, saying it was hypocritical to talk about humanitarianism while the 2010 Manila tour bus hostage crisis, in which eight Hongkongers were killed and seven injured, was unresolved.

On Wednesday, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the government had "no plan" to extend its one-month deadline for survivors and families of victims to be given compensation and a presidential apology despite the typhoon's devastation. If the deadline passes, the government may impose economic sanctions on the Philippines. She said the aid effort and the bus tragedy were "entirely separate issues".

But executive councillor Bernard Chan said yesterday: "If the Philippine government requires more time, I think we should give them the time … [because] the focus should be on humanitarian efforts."

In the Philippines, after days of conflicting death tolls, officials confirmed the number of deaths nationwide rose by more than 1,200 overnight to 3,621.

Despite the arrival of aid, massive logistical problems remain. Injured survivors waited in long lines under searing sun for treatment. Local authorities reported shortages of body bags, petrol and staff to collect the dead.

Sailors from the USS George Washington aircraft carrier and accompanying ships yesterday took food and water ashore into Tacloban and the town of Guiuan. Acting US Ambassador Brian Goldbeck said the US had moved 174 tonnes of emergency supplies into affected areas and evacuated nearly 3,000 people.

A Norwegian merchant navy vessel arrived at Tacloban with UN World Food Programme aid, including 6,200 body bags.



Related topics

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

Non-affiliated pan-democrat Wong Yuk-man voted against, saying it was hypocritical to talk about humanitarianism while the 2010 Manila tour bus hostage crisis, in which eight Hongkongers were killed and seven injured, was unresolved. Who else voted against this aid package? Not only are they shameful but utterly stupid and short-sighted politically.
I saw how Wong Yuk-man reacted on TV yesterday and it was really disgusting. I hope people wont vote this scoundrel into office next time. In contrast, LEE Cheuk-yan spoke humanely on this subject.
Dai Muff
Hong Kong's democrats, courting populism, are giving CY a white horse to ride and supporting mainland foreign policy towards the Philippines. I give up with our stupid "democrats" sometimes.
Despite the difference of opinion among the law makers which is normal in a democratic set up, one can be certain at the end of the day that Hong Kong will uphold its principle of helping the needy to the best of its ability especially those struck by natural calamities such as the one in the Philippines!
40 M is too much. 4 M is more appropriate.
That's right, HK will help in accordance to international protocols during disasters but the sanctions stays and we will make sure to count everything that used for the relief money so we know if it was worth it or not.What is the use and benefit of foreign aid if it dies not look like to come from the heart?We are really way over our heads.
Point is that there is great danger of monies and supplies falling into the wrong hands. I learnt from friends in the Philippines that the last time they had a super typhoon, a lot of aid and monies were given to the Philippines, the needy people only got 1 kilo of rice, a can of sardines, six instant noodles and 50 Pesos (less than HK$10). Although help comes from the heart, we also need to make sure that help reaches the needy.


SCMP.com Account