11 Nov 2013

NZ boosts aid to Philippines

9:43 pm on 11 November 2013

The New Zealand Government says it will provide a further $2 million in support to humanitarian efforts in the Philippines.

Four million people are thought to have been affected by the super storm, which is believed to have killed 10,000 people in the city of Tacloban on the island of Leyte alone, when huge waves swept away coastal villages on Friday.

Murray McCully.

Murray McCully. Photo: RNZ

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said on Monday that New Zealand would provide $750,000 in dollar-for-dollar funding to non-government organisations that are working with people in the Philippines.

A further $1.25 million would be allocated in coming days as priority areas are identified, he said. The money is in addition to $150,000 New Zealand had already committed to the recovery and relief effort.

Organisations including the New Zealand Red Cross have also launched special campaigns.

Filipinos in New Zealand are rushing to help where they can, with the community setting up a special bank account to funnel donations to needy areas.

About 45,000 people from the Philippines live in New Zealand, comprising 1% of the population. Many spent the weekend and on Monday on the phone to their embassy or community representatives or calling friends and family.

Tony Noblehjas, who heads a national federation representing their clubs and societies, said people have been rushing in to help, supported by many ordinary New Zealanders.

Dr Noble said his organisation is setting up a bank account to receive donations, but thinks many people will also give money to the Philippines directly, especially if they have relatives with homes in the path of the typhoon. He said no amount of money is too small for people to give.

Meanwhile, some of the Filipino carpenters helping with the Christchurch rebuild following recent damaging earthquakes are among those desperate for news from friends and family whom they have not been able to contact.

Alejandro Rocha said he has not heard from his wife and their three young children since Thursday, just before the typhoon hit the area they live in.

Mr Rocha said it has been torture watching images from there at the weekend. His brother, Armando, has not heard from his family either and feels completely powerless.

PM may postpone trip

Prime Minister John Key has offered to postpone his trip to the Philippines next week in the wake of the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan.

Mr Key is scheduled to visit the Philippines late next week on his way back from the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka.

However on Monday afternoon, Mr Key said he would speak to President Benigno Aquino in the next 24 hours to convey New Zealand's condolences personally and to discuss whether the trip would go ahead.