Seoul to send assistance to Philippines

November 12, 2013

By Chung Min-uck

The government said Tuesday it will provide $5 million in aid and send a 40-member rescue team to the typhoon-devastated Philippines.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) made the decision at an emergency relief meeting that includes both government and private entities.

The rescue team consists of rescue workers from the National 119 Rescue Headquarters, some medical staff, and officials from MOFA and the state-run Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), according to the ministry.

As soon as the Filipino government approves their entry, which is expected to take a day or two, the team will fly to the Philippines using military planes, said the ministry.

Separately, an advance group of 19 MOFA, KOICA officials and rescue workers are currently stationed near the city of Tacloban on the eastern island of Leyte, where Typhoon Haiyan made landfall with strong winds and heavy rain Friday, killing an estimated 10,000 people.

The group is expected to enter the devastated area any time soon, according to the ministry.

Currently, around 10 South Korean nationals have been confirmed missing following the disaster with about 33 Koreans reported to be living in the area.

Also to be provided are relief goods including food, blankets and tents, MOFA said.

“We’ve made the aid decision from a humanitarian perspective, considering the seriousness of human and economic damage from the typhoon, and our close bilateral relationship,” a ministry official said.

The Korea NGO Council for Overseas Development Cooperation will reportedly offer another $1 million in aid.

Prime Minister Chung Hong-won extended his consolation to the Philippines, vowing to muster efforts to help the country.

“In regard to emergency rescue and damage restoration, Korean officials led by the foreign ministry are advised to closely cooperate with the Philippine government,” he said in a Cabinet meeting earlier in the day.

“I feel very sorry for the massive human and property damage and extend my consolation to the Philippine people,” Chung said. “Our government will put forth every possible effort.”

President Park Geun-hye also sent a telegram of condolences to Philippine President Benigno Aquino III on the day.

According to Cheong Wa Dae, Park said in the message that “it was heart-aching to learn that the typhoon caused many casualties and property damage” and “wish an early recovery.”

Meanwhile, the foreign ministry was originally considering providing relief funds of between $3 million to $5 million but decided to offer the latter after the National Assembly Foreign Affairs Committee requested the largest amount, factoring in the Southeast Asian countries participation during the Korean War (1950-53).

Many countries are currently reaching out to the Typhoon-devastated Philippines with the U.S. providing $20 million in immediate aid and organizing emergency shipments of materials. Australia also announced assistance of around $9.3 million which includes the deployment of an emergency medical team, and Japan, which a day earlier sent a disaster relief and medical team of 25 people, announced Tuesday it would provide $10 million.

One Comment

  1. DI Cheon

    November 12, 2013 at 11:23 AM

    It is hell. It could happen any place in the world. We need to help these people faster..