US military scales down aid efforts in Philippines

The US military has begun scaling back its emergency relief operations in the Philippines as work shifts to recovery and rehabilitation in typhoon-hit areas, a US aid agency official said on Saturday.
Typhoon Haiyan, the most powerful storm to make landfall this year, struck the central Philippines on Nov. 8, killing more than 5,200 people, displacing 4.4 million and destroying an estimated $274 million worth of crops and infrastructure.
The US Navy has pulled out its nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the USS George Washington, but still has ten C-130 aircraft delivering relief supplies. Last week, the United States had 50 ships and aircraft in the disaster zone.
Jeremy Konyndyk, director for Foreign Disaster Assistance at the US Agency for International Development (USAID), said the US military had started to reduce its presence to allow civilian aid agencies to step up efforts.
"What we have seen, particularly over the past week, is now civilian and private-sector commercial capacity has started coming back up again and that is taking the burden off of the military actors," Konyndyk told Reuters in an interview.
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