Typhoon Haiyan relief Philippines
Soldiers transport relief goods fromTacloban airport, central Philippines (Reuters)

The massive international aid effort to the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan has raised fears amid locals that part of the funds and goods donated might be diverted by corrupt officials.

The international community has raced to show solidarity with the Philippines after Haiyan, believed to be the strongest storm on record, killed more than 4,500 people, with final estimates rising to 10,000, according to the UN, and shattered entire towns.

The US pledged $20m (£12m) and sent in the USS George Washington aircraft carrier as part of a massive military-led rescue operation.

Britain launched a similar effort worth a total of $32. Japan offered $10m, Australia $28m and a number of NGOs were collecting money to help survivors struggling to find basics such as food and water.

The Philippines has however long been affected by widespread corruption and is ranked 105th - in between Mexico and Albania - in Transparency International's corruption perception index list.

An editorial cartoon in the Manila Times newspaper depicted a man putting money into a charity box while covering his eyes with his hand.

"Please Lord, I hope this doesn't end up in some corrupt official's pocket," the man says.

Anne Corotan, a Filipino living in New York and campaign coordinator for the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns, urged the US government to carefully monitor that aid goes to the needy.

"I would like to ensure that my taxes are going to the appropriate provision of social services and not for militarisation, corruption and those who are powerful, landlords and big business owners," she told Reuters.

Some 920,000 people have displaced by the typhoon and more than 11 million have had their lives disrupted.

Dominique Lemay, who runs children's foundation Virlanie outside Manila said that rogue officials could divert aid for political gain.

"Corruption is endemic in the Philippines," Lemay told France 24. "It's likely that neighbourhood officers or deputies will take part of the funds to redistribute within their districts in order to whip up more support in time for election season."

The efficiency of the relief operation was seen as a crucial test for President Benigno Aquino, who was elected on a good governance and anti-corruption ticket.

The UN, which launched a $301m appeal said funds would not to be handed directly to the Filipino government but allocated to a number of agencies on the ground such as the Unicef and Save the Children.

UN funds allocation would be monitored by the UN Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs financial tracking service website. The UN refused to comment on the fears of corruption.

IBTimes UK asked the Department for International Development in Whitehall whether any monitoring measure had been taken for donations from Britain but received no reply before we published.


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