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Envoys visit Albay for disaster mission

The ambassadors of Spain and Australia have joined officials of 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 aims to cushion the impact of disasters in the Bicol region.

The foreign dignitaries visited Albay on Sunday, Nov. 8, 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 infrastructures.

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 the enforcement of preemptive evacuation measures 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.

DISASTER ASSESSMENT. (Left to right) Butch Meily, president of the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation; Jorge Moragas Sanchez, ambassador of Spain; Gustavo Gonzales, UN resident and humanitarian coordinator; Steven Robinson, ambassador of Australia; and Kristin Dadey, chief of Mission of the International Organization for Migration, during a meeting with Albay Gov. Al Francis Bichara on Sunday (Nov. 8). The meeting held at The Pepperland Hotel in Legazpi City aims to assess the impact of Typhoon “Rolly” and draw a long-term plan to cushion the impact of disasters and calamities. (PNA photo by Mar Serrano)

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 P6.8 million in emergency assistance (P4.3 million in emergency assistance and P2.5 million in health and sanitation) to the Philippine government and 60,000 family food packs to the typhoon victims.

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

He said Spain gave a P10-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 focus on women, children, health, and shelter needs.

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

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