Thousands of Filipinos have fled to evacuation centers and at least 14 people have died due to Typhoon Megi, which hit the Philippines yesterday with winds exceeding 155 mph (250 kph). Today, it's dumping heavy rain on the country and is expected to reach southern China later this week. Secretary Clinton offered the following condolences today:
On behalf of the people of the United States, I offer our condolences for the damage and loss of life caused on the island of Luzon by Typhoon Megi. Our embassy in Manila has offered immediate disaster relief assistance, and we are working closely with Philippine authorities to offer additional assistance as needed. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Luzon and all Filipinos affected by this tragedy.
Last November, Clinton visited the Philippines, where she toured a flood-stricken school and announced $5 million in aid to help recover from three massive storms that had hit the country in the previous six weeks.
In the Oct. 19 photo above, people survey typhoon damage in San Jose, Isabela, Philippines. In the Oct. 19 photo below -- too cute to pass up -- an evacuated baby eats handout rice at a converted basketball court in Manila.
Photos, top to bottom: Bradley Ambrose/Getty Images, NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images
In two moving video messages released by the Ad Council today, Secretary Clinton appeals to her fellow Americans to donate to flood relief in Pakistan through the Pakistan Relief Fund, set up by the U.S. government through the State Department. With poignant music playing in the background, Clinton says, "Americans have always shown great generosity to others facing crises around the world. And I call on you to do what you can."
Just text "FLOOD" to 27722 to contribute $10. (You can also donate online or via postal mail by clicking here.)
Donations to help with flood relief have been dismally low compared with those after other natural disasters, such as the Jan. 12 Haiti earthquake. A recent FP piece, "Why Doesn't the World Care About Pakistanis?", states the simple truth: People don't care because the victims are in the country of Pakistan. In other words, "the humanity of Pakistan's victims takes a backseat to the preconceived image that Westerners have of Pakistan as a country." The piece concludes:
Pakistan has suffered from desperately poor moral leadership, but punishing the helpless and homeless millions of the 2010 floods is the worst possible way to express our rejection of the Pakistani elite and their duplicity and corruption. The poor, hungry, and homeless are not an ISI conspiracy to bilk you of your cash. They are a test of your humanity. Do not follow in the footsteps of the Pakistani elite by failing them. That would be immoral and inhumane. This is a time to ask only one question. And that question is: "How can I help?"
Below is the first video, which is 30 seconds long, followed by the second one, which is 60 seconds long.
(By the way, does the photo above remind you of Dorothea Lange's famous Migrant Mother photo from the Great Depression?)
RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton congratulates Pakistan on the 63rd anniversary of its independence in 1947. Unfortunately due to the massive flooding, the day isn't as joyous as it could be; Independence Day celebrations have been canceled. Here's her statement, with video below:
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States of America, I am delighted to send best wishes and congratulations to the people of Pakistan as you mark 63 years of independence.
Fatimah Jinnah once said that the story of Pakistan is a story of "the ideals of equality, fraternity, and social and economic justice." Since gaining independence in 1947, the people of Pakistan have been writing that story, one day at a time. Together, you have overcome significant challenges. In just the past few weeks, Pakistanis and partners from many countries have worked to protect people and homes from the floods that swept through so many areas. The damage is serious, but I know Pakistan will rebuild.
And the Pakistani people will continue to write the story that began 63 years ago. As you do, please know that the people of the United States are committed to standing by you. We admire what you have accomplished since Independence. And we seek to support you as you build upon the ideals that inspired your nation from the start.
So on this occasion, let us reaffirm the partnership our nations share, the strong bonds that connect our people-bonds of family, friendship, history, and common purpose. And let us recommit to making the founding ideals of Pakistan - ideals of equality, fraternity, and social and economic justice - making them real. They helped give rise to Pakistan's creation, they stand today as goals that we all hold dear, and they provide encouragement as you continue to build a strong, prosperous, progressive, stable, secure nation for the future. Here's to the democracy of Pakistan and to the people who deserve all that you can build together, knowing that we and others will be there with you on this journey.
(In the photo above, Clinton poses with Pakistan's flag in Islamabad on Oct. 28, 2009.)
AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton this morning encouraged Americans to text "SWAT" to 50555 to help with relief efforts in Pakistan and assist those devastated by the historic floods that have so far killed at least 1,500 people and adversely affected 3 million. You'll be making a $10 donation to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees that will go toward providing tents, food, clothing, and clean water. (Reply with "yes" to confirm the gift.)
"U.S. helicopters have already airlifted hundreds of people out of danger and delivered critical supplies, including hundreds of thousands of halal meals.… We've sent boats to help with the search and rescue and water-purification units to provide clean water for thousands of people, as well as temporary bridges to replace the bridges damaged by the floods. All of this has been done in close coordination with the government of Pakistan and their disaster-management specialists.
There may be a lot of Americans out there rolling their eyes about their tax dollars going to a faraway country filled with millions of people harboring anti-American sentiment, but this is a U.S. national security issue, not just a humanitarian one. If the Pakistani government can't provide satisfactory disaster relief, militant Islamic charity groups will step in. Consider these three paragraphs from Aug. 2's Washington Post:
In past emergencies in Pakistan -- including an earthquake in 2005 and the refugee crisis caused by last year's army offensives -- Islamic charities with close ties to banned militant organizations provided basic services, filling a void left by the government and scoring points in the battle here for the public's affection.
Although that does not yet appear to be happening on a wide scale, analysts caution that the government should soon improve its performance.
"The government, unfortunately, seems to be mostly helpless," said Talat Masood, a retired Pakistani army general. "I'm very concerned that the militant organizations will be jumping in."
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
Today, on the six-month anniversary of the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake that hit Haiti, Secretary Clinton has just issued the following statement, in which she concludes, "Six months later, our resolve to stand with the people of Haiti for the long term remains undiminished."
It has been six months since a 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated Haiti and claimed the lives of 230,000 people. Hundreds of thousands more were injured and left homeless. In Haiti's hour of greatest need the international community responded. The United States and more than 140 nations provided humanitarian support, mounting one of the largest rescue and relief efforts in history. On this six month commemoration, we pause to remember all those who lost their lives or loved ones in this tragedy.
Members of the State Department and USAID family were among the dead, and today we honor their service and sacrifice. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families, friends and colleagues. I also salute everyone -- diplomats, development workers and private citizens -- who continue to serve in Haiti, helping the country build back better.
Over the last six months, the Haitian people have again shown their resilience and strength. Their efforts continue to inspire us all. Together we have worked to help children return to school, to ensure that the 1.5 million people who were left homeless have emergency shelter materials while we stand-up transitional and permanent houses, and to make certain that those in need of medical care receive it.
The United States is committed to aligning our investments with the needs of the people and Government of Haiti. We have joined international partners, private sector actors, and NGOs in working together through the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission to help empower the Haitian people and support their efforts.
Six months later, our resolve to stand with the people of Haiti for the long term remains undiminished. We are committed to helping them realize the Haitian vision for a better nation.
(In the photo above, Haitian students help clear the rubble from the Cathédrale Sainte Trinité in Port-au-Prince on July 10.)
THONY BELIZAIRE/AFP/Getty Images
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, who is U.N. special envoy for Haiti, was in the earthquake-devastated country on June 1, as seen in the photo above, in which he visits a construction project of small houses in Léogâne, about 18 miles from the capital city of Port-au-Prince. In the photo below, Haitians excitedly greet Clinton in Léogâne.
Yesterday, Clinton attended a summit in the Dominican Republic at which donor countries met to discuss rebuilding efforts for Haiti, still struggling to recover after Jan. 12's quake.
Photos: THONY BELIZAIRE/AFP/Getty Images
Both Clintons -- Hillary and Bill -- are at the United Nations today! They're attending an international donors conference on Haiti. (As you may know, Bill Clinton is U.N. special envoy for Haiti.) They are not sitting next to another, though. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Haitian President René Préval are seated between them.
The Clintons looking more studious:
Mario Tama/Getty Images
Haiti has not been forgotten. On Monday, former U.S. presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush visited Haiti to reassure the people of the earthquake-shattered country that they have not been forgotten more than two months after the Jan. 12 quake. The two were there as heads of the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, set up to help Haiti recover from the disaster that killed more than 200,000 people.
To contribute, text "QUAKE" to 20222, and a $10 donation to the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund will be added to your cell-phone bill.
THONY BELIZAIRE/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton met today with Haitian President René Préval (above) in Washington. Referring to Haiti's devastating Jan. 12 earthquake, she said:
The United States and the international community mounted the largest ever rescue and relief effort. Progress has been made, but not nearly enough, and therefore, we are holding these meetings with President Préval today and tomorrow and the next day to discuss in depth what we need to do still to alleviate suffering and what we will do together to help build back Haiti better."
TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton arrived in quake-struck Chile yesterday for a brief visit and delivered 25 satellite phones, including one she gave directly to President Michelle Bachelet, whom she greeted with a hug.
She also said, "We'll be here to help when others leave because we are committed to this partnership and this friendship with Chile."
Clinton spent most of her visit at an undamaged section of Santiago's airport and did not venture close to any heavily damaged areas. That's actually a good thing, as explained in the recent FP article, "Celebrities, Stay Home," because coordinating the logisitics of a visit by a high-profile person uses up tons of staff time and resources that are better directed toward disaster relief. Clinton was smart to keep her visit short and simple.
Secretary Clinton arrived in Uruguay today for her weeklong visit to South America and Central America.
Uruguay: Today, Clinton will attend the inauguration of José Mujica, Latin America's newest leftist leader.
Argentina: Later today in Buenos Aires, she'll meet with Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Earlier, Clinton said she's willing to assist Argentina and Britain resolve their dispute over the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas.
Chile: On Tuesday morning, Clinton is bringing communications equipment for the quake-hit country.
Brazil: Next she heads to Brazil, which presently has a rotating seat on the U.N. Security Council. She's going to use her diplomacy skills to try to persuade the Brazilian government to support tougher sanctions against Iran in order to check its nuclear ambitions. Brazil currently opposes further sanctions.
Costa Rica: Clinton will move on to Central America on Thursday, where she'll attend the Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas ministerial meeting, a gathering of the region's foreign ministers that will center on improving the hemisphere's economy.
Guatemala: On Friday, Clinton will conclude her trip by meeting a group of regional leaders, including Honduran President Porfirio Lobo, who became leader in January, succeeding an interim government that outsed former President Manuel Zelaya last June.
Here are a couple of quick links about how Secretary Clinton's meeting about Haiti earthquake relief went yesterday in Montreal:
•"Clinton Says Plan for Haiti Exists" (Washington Times). A couple of excerpts:
The Obama administration wants to use a plan for rebuilding Haiti it had before this month's earthquake, rather than "start from scratch," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday as top diplomats from around the world gathered to map out the country's recovery.
"So we have a plan," she said. "It was a legitimate plan, it was done in conjunction with other international donors, with the United Nations. And I don't want to start from scratch, but we have to recognize the changed challenges we are now confronting."
•"Haiti: 10 Years and $10 Billion in Aid?" (Toronto Star). An excerpt:
Clinton called it "novel" to do a needs assessment first, followed by planning, then the pledging of cash.
"It might seem different from what you're used to," Clinton said, "where people come together and make all kinds of promises, many of which never get realized because the follow-up work is never done."
ROGERIO BARBOSA/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton is in Montreal today for a preliminary meeting about earthquake relief in Haiti. The meeting is expected to lead to a larger donors conference in the next 30 to 60 days. Clinton's remarks about the meeting and relief efforts in Haiti, made while she was en route to Canda earlier today, are here. (Above, Clinton on Jan. 20 gives an update on the Haiti situation and announces she's going to Montreal for a meeting on providing relief.)
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Wow! Everyone in the Clinton family, including daughter Chelsea, has been to Haiti! Due to the family's strong emotional ties to Haiti, Hillary Clinton once said her family is a "Haiti-obsessed family." Bill Clinton told the Washington Post recently that when Hillary learned about the damage from the earthquake, she became "physically sick."
Above, Chelsea helps unload water from a U.N. truck yesterday at the Port-au-Prince General Hospital. Below, Bill Clinton takes bottled water out of his plane yesterday.
Logan Abassi/MINUSTAH via Getty Images
Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day, everyone! I hope on this holiday we can all take the time to reflect on the values King promoted and do what we can to support those in need, especially in Haiti.
As many of you know, Secretary Clinton flew into Haiti on Saturday. The cargo plane she was in carried soap, bottled water, and other supplies, along with relief workers. "We are here at the invitation of your government to help you," she told Haitian journalists, perhaps to make it clear this isn't an imperialism-inspired intervention.
"I know of the great resilience and strength of the Haitian people," she also said. "You have been severely tested, but I believe that Haiti can come back even stronger and better in the future."
Due to Clinton's emotional connection to Haiti, where she honeymooned with Bill Clinton (the U.N. envoy to Haiti), I'm sure she'll give the relief efforts there extra consideration and support. As Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum wrote today, "I am very, very glad that [Bill Clinton] and his wife spent their honeymoon in Haiti: How fortunate, at this moment, that the country has such powerful friends."
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A concerned Secretary Clinton returned from warm Hawaii to chilly Washington this morning (as seen above at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland) after canceling the rest of her Pacific trip to deal with the devastation from the Haiti earthquake. Before leaving Hawaii, she said:
[W]e are facing a disaster of as yet unknown magnitude. And the problems that we're going to confront over the next days in particular as we try to launch successful search-and-rescue missions, followed up by the immediate pressing need for food and water in particular, are just of unimaginable extent. Therefore, I've decided to cancel the remainder of my trip and return to Washington this afternoon."
This morning on CNN, Clinton encouraged Americans to text "Haiti" to 90999 to donate $10 for Red Cross relief efforts (the donation will automatically be added to your cell-phone bill).
Photos, top to bottom: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images, Joe Raedle/Getty Images
As you all may know, Haiti has a special place in the hearts of Hillary and Bill Clinton. As newlyweds, they went there for a delayed honeymoon. The couple has five Haitian paintings that they've kept in every house they've lived in, including the White House. Husband Bill is the U.N. special envoy for Haiti. In April, Secretary Clinton told the Miami Herald, "I have a personal interest in Haiti going back many years." She also said that she and Bill "have always been cheering for the success of Haiti against some pretty tough odds."
And yes, poor Haiti has been facing some really tough odds. The country just can't get a break. After learning about the earthquake there yesterday, Secretary Clinton, who's in Hawaii (see photo below) for the first leg of her Pacific trip, said:
The United States is offering our full assistance to Haiti and to others in the region. We will be providing both civilian and military disaster relief and humanitarian assistance. And our prayers are with the people who have suffered, their families, and their loved ones."
Husband Bill, as U.N. envoy to Haiti, said in a statement yesterday:
My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Haiti. My U.N. office and the rest of the U.N. system are monitoring the situation, and we are committed to do whatever we can to assist the people of Haiti in their relief, rebuilding and recovery efforts."
Bill Clinton is helping to coordinate relief operations between the United Nations and United States. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters, "I have spoken with Mr. Clinton, and we have agreed to mobilize our best assistance and rescue teams and try to reconstruct the Haitian economy."
Photos, top to bottom: DANIEL MOREL/AFP/Getty Images, MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
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