AUSTRALIA PROVIDES EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE TO VICTIMS OF GUIMARAS OIL SPILL
The Australian Ambassador to the Philippines, Mr Tony Hely, today announced that the Australian Government is pleased to contribute P7.3 million (A$196,000) in emergency humanitarian relief to the Philippines in response to the M/T Solar Oil Spill that occurred in 11 August 2006 off the coast of the island province of Guimaras.
UNICEF recently completed a study of Guimaras communities affected by the oil spill. The study identified that a large number of families are currently being supported in temporary shelters and are in need of further basic supplies. It also noted that many schools and teaching services had been affected, as well as health services being over-extended in meeting the needs of affected communities.
Mr Colin Davis, Senior Programme Coordinator of UNICEF, said, “UNICEF is grateful for the assistance of the Australian Government. This will help keep children from the affected areas in schools and it will assist those families who have been displaced with food and other household supplies” during the handover at the Australian Embassy.
The P7.3 million will be used to provide emergency relief including: shelter and education (food and school supplies for children in most affected schools and day care centers, tents to serve as temporary shelters to decongest existing evacuation centers and temporary classrooms equipped with basic educational supplies); health and nutrition (emergency health kits, skin ointments, de-worming tablets, immunization and health advisories/information and education materials on ill effects of prolonged exposure to bunker oil); and water and sanitation (water containers for evacuation centers and schools/day care centers, water purification tablets, and support for the installation of temporary sanitation facilities).
As of 11 September 2006, the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) reported that the oil spill has affected 7,870 families (39,004 persons) in 59 barangays in 3 municipalities in Guimaras and continues to threaten 38 municipalities (1 in Guimaras, 16 in Iloilo and 21 in Negros Occidental). Meanwhile, affected ecosystems include 235 kms of coastline, 16 sq kms of coral reef, 479 hectares of mangrove, 58 hectares of seaweeds, 825 hectares of fishponds and 1,143 hectares of DENR marine reserves.
Considerable government, civil society and international assistance is being directed to help those affected. The Ambassador said, “Australia will continue to monitor the situation and work closely with the government and other donors in assessing longer-term development needs of Guimaras Province”.