MANILA – The Qatari people, through the Qatar Red Crescent, has donated around USD250,000 (approximately PHP12 million) worth of relief goods to assist in the recovery of Filipino families affected by recent Typhoon Ulysses (Vamco).

A Qatar Emiri Air Force C-17 plane transported the relief items via an "air bridge" established between the two states and landed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport around 3:56 am on Friday.

The Qatar Embassy in Manila said the aid was delivered under the directive of Qatar's Emir, His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, in a "bid to help friends in the Republic of the Philippines". Abdelmonaim Mhindate, head of the Qatar Red Crescent Philippine mission, said the donations would be delivered straight to the typhoon-stricken families, particularly those from the provinces of Rizal and Cagayan, two of the hardest-hit areas when "Ulysses" struck in November.

The Qatar Emiri Air Force C-17 plane that transported the relief items. (PNA photo by Robert Oswald Alfiler)

The relief items include more than 40 tons of various food and non-food items in addition to shelter, tents, water and sanitation units, generators, and rescue boats. It will be coursed through the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) to help about 2,500 families, some of whom were displaced following the typhoon's onslaught.

"Once we took all these items outside the airport, immediately, it will be taken to the affected areas, especially in Rizal and Cagayan," Mhindate told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) during the arrival.

"There is a very long, historic diplomatic relationship between the State of Qatar and the Republic of the Philippines. The Qatar Red Crescent and the PRC, we also have longstanding cooperation and partnership so we have always been interested to support PRC and the Filipino people especially those who have been affected by natural disasters," he added.

Mhindate said Qatar would continue to support the Philippines, especially with emergency response in times of natural disasters. "We'll continue our work with PRC to reach those who are exposed to the dangers of disasters and we will work hard hand in hand with them."

The Qatar aid program was implemented by Qatar Charity and the Qatar Red Crescent, which in turn coordinated with the PRC to ensure the quick provision of aid. Its main donor was Qatar Fund for Development.

During the ceremonial turnover, PRC chairman, Sen. Richard Gordon said the donation is a testament to the volunteer organizations' mutual support among members of the society.

Philippine Red Cross Chairman, Sen. Richard Gordon and Qatar Ambassador to the Philippines, Ali Bin Ibrahim Ahmad Al-Malki (PNA photo by Joey O. Razon)

“Qatar Red Crescent has been helping us all the time, therefore, solidifying our relationship. All these [donations] are necessary, we give it to the most vulnerable sectors of the community,” he said.

The contents of the donation include 402 food packages worth USD10,765.89; 1137 food packages worth USD31,150.68; thermal blanket; family rifle tent; shelter tool kit; tarpaulin; inflatable boats; mosquito net; Robin Subaro engine; carbon and sand filters, among others.

The relief items getting unloaded from the plane. (PNA photo by Robert Oswald Alfiler)

The QRC has been a partner of the PRC in many humanitarian efforts such as Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in 2013, Typhoon Hagupit in 2014, the Surigao earthquake and Typhoon Vinta in 2017, and Typhoon Mangkhut in 2018, to name a few.

One of its notable efforts is the donation of two water tankers and 650 disaster-resilient shelters to "Yolanda" victims.

"Ulysses" hit the Philippines last Nov. 11, causing massive flooding in several areas across Luzon while the country was still struggling to recover from the devastation brought by Super Typhoon Rolly in the same month.

It has so far affected 4.8 million people in 7,184 barangays in Regions 1, 2, 3, 5 (Bicol), 4-A (Calabarzon), 4-B (Mimaropa), Cordillera Administrative Region, and Metro Manila. As of this posting, some 23,071 families are still being served inside 425 evacuation centers.

The typhoon also killed 73, injured 85, and left 19 missing persons, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

Its estimated damage to agriculture and infrastructure, meanwhile, reached PHP19.2 billion as of Dec. 3. (PNA)