Press release

Extra British military support for Philippines aid effort

Britain is sending the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious to speed up the distribution of aid supplies in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.

Britain is sending the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious to the Philippines to speed up the distribution of aid supplies and provide clean drinking water to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, Prime Minister David Cameron announced today.

HMS Illustrious and her 900-strong crew is now moving to the Philippines, equipped with a large flight deck, seven helicopters, medical and engineering capabilities, and the means to produce fresh water. Its helicopters will be used to assist with the distribution of food and water to survivors stranded in remote locations.

An Antonov aircraft has also been deployed. It will carry and provide 100 tons of airfield handling equipment to enable offloading of relief supplies at airfields and equipment for rubble clearance.

The UK Government had now given more than £20 million in aid in response to Typhoon Haiyan.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

What happened in the Philippines is an absolute tragedy. You can see the devastation, the suffering, and it’s quite clear that we are going to need long-term help for those people. The British Government has already pledged over £20 million, which makes us one of the most generous donors anywhere in the world. But it’s practical action that’s needed as well.

That’s why I sent HMS Daring to go and help in the Philippines and I can announce today that we are going to be able to replace HMS Daring with HMS Illustrious.

Secretary of State for International Development, Justine Greening, said:

HMS Illustrious will bring extra air support which can help unblock transport bottlenecks. In addition, the UK will send specialist aircraft loaded with heavy-duty equipment to speed up the offloading of relief supplies at airfields.

We are now in peak danger period for the spread of infectious disease, so HMS Illustrious’ capability to provide drinking water will be invaluable.

The UK has now given more than £20 million in aid. Not only are we helping thousands of people in desperate need but British equipment and personnel will help clear the roads so international humanitarian relief can get to where it needs to go.

This significant step-up in Britain’s military support for the aid effort will ensure a heavy-duty capability remains in place for the crucial weeks ahead and help co-ordinate the huge international logistics operation underway to get aid supplies through to hard-to-reach parts of the Philippines.

The Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond, said:

HMS Illustrious will increase the UK’s contributions to disaster relief operations in the Philippines with a greater number of helicopters available for humanitarian assistance.

The ship’s company will be able to increase the current medical, fresh water and airlift capabilities that will be provided by HMS Daring when she arrives on station shortly.

Our helicopter carrier will also provide additional capacity as an operating platform for other helicopters involved in the relief operation.

HMS Illustrious offers:

  • more air support with seven helicopters (3 x Lynx, 1 x Merlin, 3 x Sea King);
  • a large flight deck which other helicopters already in the area can use;
  • medical and engineering capabilities; and
  • fresh water production that will help to prevent the spread of disease.

The deployment of HMS Illustrious will beef up the military support already committed including the destroyer HMS Daring and at least one RAF C-17. The UK has also provided a civilian Antonov cargo aircraft to distribute essential aid and equipment needed in the relief effort.

The UK’s humanitarian response also includes a team of humanitarian experts from the Department of International Development who have deployed to the Philippines to help co-ordinate the international response and ensure we are prioritising the protection of vulnerable women and children. On top of this, 12 emergency British medical staff, including surgeons, doctors and A&E nurses, are now in the Philippines to assist with recovery efforts.

Within hours of the typhoon, DFID had activated the UK’s Rapid Response Facility, which provides emergency support via pre-approved organisations in the event of a humanitarian disaster overseas, and pledged funding to get food, shelter and clean water to people in need.

Notes to editors

  1. HMS Illustrious, which has been taking part in an exercise in the Gulf, is now heading to the Philippines and will be helping in the humanitarian effort by 25 November. Costs will be covered by the UK’s disaster relief fund.

  2. HMS Illustrious is to take over from HMS Daring, which has already been deployed to the region, to ensure capability remains in place for the crucial weeks ahead and to help co-ordinate the huge international logistics operation.

  3. Typhoon Haiyan, which hit on Friday, has killed at least 2,300 people and displaced more than half a million

  4. On Saturday 9 November DFID activated the UK’s Rapid Response Facility, which provides emergency support via pre-approved organisations in the event of a humanitarian disaster overseas.

  5. DFID has sent humanitarian experts to the Philippines to help coordinate the international response and ensure we are prioritising the protection of vulnerable women and children.

  6. The UK’s total contribution in response to Typhoon Haiyan is now more than £20 million, which will help get shelter, clean water and emergency supplies to up to 800,000 people. This includes:

  • matching the first £5 million donated to the Disasters Emergency Committee Appeal for the Philippines, ensuring leading charities have the resources they need to help victims of the typhoon and make the public’s generous donations go even further;

  • £8 million for the Rapid Response Facility so partners on the ground can provide crucial humanitarian aid;

  • £3 million to fly vital supplies such as water purification kits, cutting equipment and medical support, as well as teams of humanitarian and medical experts, to flood hit areas; and

  • at least £5 million for the deployment of MOD assets to support the aid effort.

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