Foreign dignitaries visit Albay for disaster response mission

Foreign dignitaries visit Albay for disaster response mission

LEGAZPI CITY – Ambassadors of Spain and Australia have joined the United Nations (UN) and International Organization for Migration (IOM) in launching a Humanitarian Investment Mission Plan that would draw a long term scheme that would cushion the impact of disasters in Bicol.

The foreign dignitaries visited Albay on Sunday to conduct an assessment on the destruction wrought by Super Typhoon Rolly that hit the region last Nov. 1, killing 20 people and destroying billions of pesos worth of agriculture products, and public and private infrastructure.

As the group prepared the details of the investment plan, they commended Albay Gov. Al Francis Bichara and the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office (APSEMO) for the province’s early disaster warning system, and preemptive evacuation measures enforced before the onslaught of Typhoon Quinta in late October and Super Typhoon Rolly just a week after.

Gustavo Gonzales, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in the Philippines lauded Albay for its preemptive evacuation procedure that placed out of harm’s way 480,000 villagers who are vulnerable to floods, lahar, landslide, and storm surge.

He explained that the Humanitarian Investment Mission Plan aims to involve international and national communities in a solidarity front to assist communities frequented by calamities such as typhoons, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and other forms of disasters.

The plan would also include addressing the impact of a global pandemic such as the coronavirus disease.

“The programs would be cost-effective in terms of investments in support involving the right infrastructure, power, water, and communication facilities,” he said.

The investment plan would also cover international and national assistance to address the impact of disasters on agriculture, health, and education, and build shelters for families whose dwellings were destroyed by calamities.

Steven Robinson, the Australian ambassador, gave full support to the humanitarian mission and commended the province for its disaster preparedness and response program.

He said the Australian government has granted PHP6.8 million in emergency assistance (PHP4.3 million in emergency assistance and PHP2.5 million in health and sanitation) to the typhoon victims and 60,000 family food packs.

Jorge Moragas Sanchez, ambassador of Spain, assured the province with support to overcome the disastrous situation the befell the region.

He said he gave a PHP10-million disaster response fund through the Philippine Red Cross.

Sanchez said he would meet with members of the European Union and ask them to assist in the response and recovery program in typhoon-affected communities with a focus on women, children, health, and shelter needs

The groups also visited the devastated town of Tiwi where “Rolly” made its second landfall on the morning of Nov. 1. (PNA)

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