The British Royal Navy amphibious helicopter carrier, HMS Illustrious, has been thanked by senior members of the Philippine government in Manila as the ship completes her task, supporting the disaster relief mission following Super Typhoon Yolanda (international codename Haiyan).
“Lusty” has been in the Philippines since November 25 delivering aid supplies and providing “hands on” help to many Filipinos living on some of the more remote islands affected by the storm as part of the UK’s commitment to contribute to the humanitarian aid efforts for survivors of the typhoon.
Several senior members of the Philippine government and Armed Forces, including the Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, have visited the ship during her brief time in port to thank members of the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the Armed Forces personnel who have been embarked on “Lusty” during her part in the aid mission.
Trevor Lewis, Chargé d’Affaires at the British Embassy said, “I was extremely proud to board Illustrious in Manila and to be able to thank the crew for everything they have done to support the relief effort following Typhoon Yolanda. She has done a great job in delivering aid to those most in need in the more remote parts of the Philippines where other relief efforts haven’t yet reached. I’m sure her crew have made a difference to the lives of people living on those islands and I’m sure that those Filipinos will equally have fond memories of the help that they received from British forces when they needed it most.
“The UK’s commitment to help does not end when the ship leaves. Our aid department, DFID, is still in the country to continue coordinating the UK’s contribution to the humanitarian aid efforts in the Philippines. We continue to stand by the Philippines in these challenging times,” Lewis added.
For his part, Gazmin declared, “No amount of words can precisely express our most profound gratitude for the noble deeds of HMS Illustrious and the British sailors in extending utmost assistance to the victims of that deadly natural disaster which has ravaged many islands of our archipelago. We can only thank you from the depths of our hearts and treasure your most appreciated help in our trying moments that has in no small way eased the pains and sufferings of our affected countrymen.”
UK Secretary of State for Defence, Philip Hammond meanwhile stated, “I am extremely proud of our military’s hard work in support of humanitarian relief in the Philippines. I am grateful to the RAF detachments and the crews of HMS Illustrious and HMS Daring for their swift distribution of aid during the disaster relief operation and am pleased that the DFID will continue to support the recovery effort.”
UK International Development Secretary, Justine Greening said, “HMS Illustrious has played a crucial role in getting vital aid supplies and medics to the worst hit areas, including some of the most hard to reach islands. Britain can be proud of the part she has played. The UK Government has made more than £60 million available for the relief effort and will continue to stand by the people of the Philippines. While relief efforts continue, we are working hard to protect women and girls from to sexual violence and trafficking. We are committed to helping the people of the Philippines as they rebuild their country.”
Captain Mike Utley, Commanding Officer of HMS Illustrious added, “The ability of Illustrious to provide assistance to isolated islands off the Philippines has been a key part of the overall UK aid mission. Each of these communities had different needs following the typhoon and our response has been led by close coordination between the Philippine people, DFID and the UK military. My people are proud to have helped set these communities on the path to longer term recovery”
With guidance from on board DFID specialists, the ship’s company of 650 men and women and 300 additional personnel including Royal Marines, Army and civilian medical staff have repaired buildings damaged by the storm, cleared debris, delivered medical care and the seven embarked helicopters have delivered provisions and tools to allow island communities to begin to reconstruct their lives.
HMS Illustrious began her return journey to the UK this week after a stopover in Manila to re-supply. DFID will continue to coordinate the UK contribution to the Philippine Government’s humanitarian aid mission.
The UK Government is providing over £60 million in humanitarian support to help aid get through to hard-to-reach areas affected by Typhoon Yolanda. Furthermore, the British public contributed over £73 million through an appeal from the Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC), a group of 14 UK aid charities.