Australia extends more aid to Storm Sendong victims
MANILA, Philippines—The Australian government announced Friday it will provide additional assistance to the Filipino people, particularly communities severely affected by Tropical Storm last December.
In a statement posted on its Web site, the Australian Embassy in Manila said the Canberra government’s additional contribution of P292 million (A$6.5 million) will support “essential humanitarian needs, early recovery and longer-term reconstruction efforts” in the affected areas.
“It will help provide health, education and protection services and rebuild livelihoods,” the embassy said, adding that the funding will also help to strengthen community disaster preparedness and early warning systems.
In particular, Australia’s additional package of assistance will: help rebuild the livelihoods of the worst-affected families through cash-for-work programs; repair and rebuild severely damaged classrooms and replace learning materials so children can resume proper schooling; work with Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities to undertake detailed hazard mapping to better understand disaster risks and to strengthen the ability of communities to cope and prepare for future disasters, including by establishing early warning systems; and ensure that the needs of the most vulnerable, including children, women, the elderly, people with disabilities, and those living in remote communities, are properly addressed.
The embassy said Australia will work with a range of United Nations agencies, international and local organisations to deliver this new package of assistance.
“This extra assistance reflects the Australian people’s commitment to extend a helping hand to our friends in times of need,” said Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Bill Tweddell in the statement. “I hope Australia’s humanitarian assistance can help some of the worst-affected families to rebuild their shattered lives.”
“It has been two months since Sendong struck but almost half a million Filipinos still have limited access to food, water, shelter and other basic services and are in dire need of assistance,” Tweddell added.
Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Kevin Rudd MP earlier conveyed the Australian people’s condolences to the Philippine government for the loss of life and damage caused by Sendong.
Australia places a very high priority on responding to natural disasters in its aid program to the Philippines.
Australia’s assistance to Sendong victims is now P351 million (A$7.8 million), making Australia the largest donor to the flash appeal launched by the Philippine government and the United Nations, according to the embassy.
Immediately following the Sendong disaster, Australia was one of the first donors to respond by releasing non-food items, such as temporary shelters, and funding psycho-social support valued at P59 million (A$1.3 million).
“The Australian government understands that humanitarian assistance is not enough. Australia’s aid program also targets a large proportion of its annual aid program budget of P5.5 billion on reducing disaster risk and enhancing disaster preparedness across the country,” Tweddell said.
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