AUSTRALIA HANDS OVER ASSISTANCE TO 'REMING' VICTIMS
Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Tony Hely
(2nd from right)and Australian Agency for
International Development (AusAID) Counsellor
Sam Zappia (extreme left) handed over the cheques
for emergency humanitarian assistance to Typhoon
Reming victims to representatives of partner relief
agencies: (L-R) UNICEF Senior Programme Officer
Colin Davis, UNDP Officer-in-Charge Ethelind
Capuno, and Phil. National Red Cross (PNRC)
Chairman Sen. Richard Gordon in a presentation
ceremony held at the Australian Embassy. Also in
photo is PNRC Fund Generation Director
Gwen Pang (R).
Not quite having recovered from the havoc wrought by the typhoon Milenyo in late September, the Philippines was yet again devastated by Super Typhoon Reming (international code name: Durian) early this month. Hundreds were left dead, thousands injured and many more are still missing, in the Bicol region (Albay, Camarines Sur, and Catanduanes) – the area worst hit by the typhoon. Bicol has since been the focus of government and international relief efforts.
Following the Philippine government’s plea for international help, the Australian Government immediately pledged assistance to the victims of the disaster. Ambassador Tony Hely personally conveyed to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo the Australian people’s condolences and sympathy for the tragic loss of and damage to life brought by typhoon Reming.
The Australian Government, through the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), has committed A$ 1 million (Php 39 million) in emergency humanitarian assistance channelled through the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC), UNDP, and UNICEF. PNRC received A$ 500,000, while UNDP and UNICEF A$250,000 each.
Australian Ambassador Tony Hely, together with AusAID Counsellor Sam Zappia, handed over the cheques of assistance for the typhoon victims to PNRC Chairman Sen. Richard Gordon, UNDP Officer-in-Charge Ethelind Capuno, and UNICEF Senior Programme Officer Colin Davis in a presentation ceremony held at the Australian Embassy.
With Australian assistance, PNRC will continue to provide emergency relief and rehabilitation assistance to victims. UNDP, in turn, will provide short-term electricity (through generator sets) and shelter needs of affected families and schools in the provinces of Albay, Camarines Sur and Catanduanes in Bicol as well as in Marinduque, Romblon, and Oriental and Occidental Mindoro. UNICEF’s emergency relief include health and shelter, water and sanitation, and education items.
“With little alternative sources of sustenance, these vulnerable communities need immediate relief to tide them over for the immediate term, and then some assistance to get them back on their feet with livelihood assistance,” Sen. Gordon said. “The PNRC has found a reliable partner in AusAID which shares our cause of alleviating human suffering especially among the poorest of the poor.
With the help of generous donors like the Australia, the PNRC is able to provide the emergency needs of our poor countrymen who have suffered the wrath of Typhoon Reming," he added.
Reming was one of the most devastating and strongest to hit the country in the last 20 years. Reports from the National Disaster Coordinating Council as of 12 December 2006 has placed affected families to 643, 927 (3,160,703 persons) in 3,042 barangays of the 160 municipalities and 13 cities in 14 provinces of Bicol and Southern Tagalog. Death toll is at 715, with 2,174 injured and 764 missing, and damage to properties amounting to almost Php 4.6 billion.
Australia's aid program in the Philippines focuses on strengthening security and stability including disaster preparedness and response, economic governance, and raising the living standards of the rural poor. Australia and the Philippines are close regional partners and the two countries share an interest in reducing poverty and improving stability and security in the Philippines. Australia, through its international aid agency AusAID, has allocated A$70 million in overseas development assistance to the Philippines in 2006-07.