So it’s seems the vast majority of aid sent to the Philippines is thus far sitting on a runway in Cebu several hundred miles away from the people who need it.
The issue is that none of the affected areas have a runway long enough for anything other than military transports such as the C130 and few such planes are available.
Now the Disaster Emergency Committee (an umbrella group of 14 UK charities) is launching a UK appeal to raise funds for disaster relief for the Philippines.
However given the fact that the aid already in country will take a week or more to reach the affected people one has to wonder how the money raised in the UK today by the DEC will get to the people who need it.
If I was a cynic I might suggest that disaster’s like the Philippines represent a fantastic fund raising opportunity for charities such as the British Red Cross (who’s CEO is on a salary of £183,000 a year).[browser-shot width=”600″ url=”http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10224104/30-charity-chiefs-paid-more-than-100000.html”]
Now these charities cannot be blamed for the state of the runway’s in the Philippines or other countries were disasters hit however these “charities” are the same ones who have spent considerable amounts of their donors money lobbying the UK government to not only increase foreign aid but also make sure that not a penny of that aid money can go to the British Military to help in such situations.
It will likely surprise many that only 15% of British government foreign aid goes on disaster relief with the bulk of the rest going on “development” projects.
Disaster’s such as the Philippines and before it Haiti, The Pakistan Earth Quake and the 2004 Tsunami prove that by far the most useful aid that can be delivered to countries in need is military aid. No other organisation other than the world’s militaries has the trained personnel or equipment to get relief supplies to the people who need it the most.
It makes absolutely no sense to me why the DFID in the UK cannot follow the example of every other country in Europe and share procurement and running costs for military assets that can be used for disaster relief such as transport aircraft, Amphibious Ship’s and helicopters.
The RAF has managed to send a single C17 which given the constraints of maintaining the air bridge with Afghanistan is probably about all we can muster. While this aircraft will prove vital it is a single plane and will make little difference for the estimated 11 million people in need of help.
So perhaps the next time the likes of Oxfam and the British Red Cross are lobbying the government against using the foreign aid budget to support military equipment they might spare a thought for who the hell is going to get their aid to the people that need it the most.