Even with a disjointed Congress and a president on the brink of political disaster, one thing the American government seems to agree on is sending out humanitarian assistance to those in need.
One week after a storm surge from super typhoon Haiyan decimated the Philippines’ port city of Tacloban—leaving a reported 4,460 dead and over 4 million displaced, according to the U.N.—the U.S. is among the most generous donors by far.
As of Monday's count (PDF), 23 countries have poured over $181 million in aid to the Philippines as part of the relief effort. The largest donations have come from the United Kingdom, Australia, and the U.S. Their donations of $32.3 million, $28.7 million, and $27.0 million respectively, account for about half of the total relief effort so far, and dwarf contributions from other countries—such as a mere $1.9 million pledge from China, a close and wealthy neighbor. One of the largest sources of funds so far comes from the Central Emergency Response Fund, a U.N. reserve meant for rapid crisis response.
Once the rubble is cleared and outer regions report their dead, officials expect the death toll could rise to 10,000. In total, a little over half of the U.N.’s $301 million request has been funded.
The U.S. has long taken the lead in responding to disaster relief operations throughout the world. Granted broad authority by the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, the president can quickly provide funds as well as military assistance to areas in urgent need.
In fact, the U.S. is the world’s top donor to humanitarian efforts, according to the U.N.. The U.S. government contributed more than $4 billion to disaster relief in FY2012. In 2013, the U.S. government has provided $3.2 billion as an answer to U.N. appeals for relief—over 50 percent more than the second highest donor, the European Commission, which has given $2.1 billion so far this year.
The funding breakdown for the Philippines relief effort below includes both payments, transfer of in-kind goods (like aid flights and temporary shelters), and contractual commitments. Non-binding pledges, like the $1.9 million announced by China, are not included in this analysis, as they are not recognized by the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs until they are paid out or made into a contractual obligation.
Design by Dair Massey