Aid requests to the typhoon-struck Philippines will be processed according to “procedure and humanitarian policy”, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said on Monday.
This comes just a week after he warned Manila of unspecified sanctions if they failed to address the demands of the families of eight Hongkongers killed and seven injured in the 2010 bus hostage incident in Manila.
Leung said the government had been in contact with Manila and would “follow procedure and humanitarian policy” in handling requests by relief agencies’ for aid to Philippine typhoon victims.
Asked about the sanctions, Leung said the Philippine government had not requested an extension on the one-month deadline after which “necessary actions” would be taken unless “substantial progress” was made.
Meanwhile, People Power lawmaker Albert Chan Wai-yip, who tabled a private member bill in the Legislative Council earlier this month to ban Filipinos from working in the city, said on Monday he would shelve the bill “temporarily” until rescue efforts in the country were stabilised.
The government will seek urgent approval of the Legislative Council’s finance committee this Friday to inject an additional HK$40 million into the Disaster Relief Fund.
The fund’s balance currently stands at HK$9 million, which is unlikely to be sufficient to meet the funding requirements of the relief organisations, a government spokesman said on Monday.
Local charities have already jumped into action. The Hong Kong Committee for Unicef (Unicef HK) has allocated HK$1 million from its emergency fund as the number of children affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan rose to four million.
Therapeutic food for children, health kits, water and hygiene kits to support up to 3,000 families have already been mobilised from supplies available in the country, with distribution prioritised for the Tacloban area as soon as access is possible.
Unicef’s warehouse in Copenhagen has airlifted HK$10.1 million worth of water purification tablets, soap, medical kits, tarpaulins and micronutrient supplements for another 10,000 families.
Three World Vision emergency assessment teams will travel to some of the worst-affected areas on Sunday, including Bohol province, Samar and Leyte province, and Panay Island, with initial plans to respond to nearly 400,000 people. World Vision Hong Kong has initially committed HK$780,000.
Oxfam Hong Kong has also mobilised more than HK$500,000 on top of the £550,000 (HK$6.8 million) Oxfam Great Britain has allocated. Oxfam expects to give around 250,000 people access to clean water, sanitation and cash for food and basic essentials and to compensate for loss of income.
“These disasters compound the burden of the Philippines’ poorest people. Small-scale farmers and those relying on fishing to make a living will be hardest hit. Their fields and their boats and tackle will be badly damaged and they will need help not only today but in months to come,” said Marie Madamba-Nuñez, advocacy co-ordinator of Oxfam in the Philippines.
The International Red Cross has initially mobilised approximately HK$4 million to support the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) in deploying rapid assessment teams and delivering immediate assistance to 5,000 families.
Hong Kong Red Cross is offering an emergency tracing service to people in the city looking for missing family members in the Philippines.
A Red Cross spokeswoman said 21 enquiries had been received as of 4.30pm today, about 80 per cent of which were initiated by employers on behalf of their domestic helpers. Ten cases involving 34 sought persons have been established, of which two cases involving five sought persons have been closed.