Australia gives PH P17.5M in aid for typhoon victims

MANILA, Philippines – Australia will provide P17.5 million (US$373,442) in humanitarian aid for victims of Typhoon Nona (international name: Melor) that devastated central Luzon in mid-December.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced Saturday, January 2, that the aid will include 5,700 hygiene and safety kits for families affected by flooding. These kits include blankets, mosquito nets, sleeping mats, water containers, and basic hygiene and safety items for women.

“As a good friend and close neighbor in the Indo-Pacific region, the Australian Government has responded to the request for assistance from the Philippines Government, which has already mobilized considerable domestic resources to support affected communities,” Bishop said in a statement.

Typhoon Nona caused heavy flooding in central Luzon, killing 42 and leaving 24 injured. Nearly 280,000 families had their homes damaged or destroyed. Thousands were left without food, water or medical care. Nona hit northern Philippines just a week after another storm, Onyok, also brought rain and floods. (READ: Santa absent this year in typhoon-hit Philippines)

Nona’s damage to infrastructure and agriculture reached P6.45 billion (US$137.74 million). The Philippine government spent P88 million (US$1.87 million) in assistance so far.

Australia will distribute the supplies through the United Nations Population Fund, and the Philippine Red Cross. It will also provide assistance in the form of sexual and reproductive health services through its partners, the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines, and the International Planned Parenthood Federation.

Canberra also sent an Australian Civilian Corps specialist to work with the Philippine government in disaster response logistics and humanitarian relief efforts.

A long-time ally, Australia has been providing aid to the Philippines for disaster preparedness and response including during Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), the worst storm to hit the Southeast Asian nation in 2013.

Australia’s aid program includes multi-hazard and risk-mapping, updates to land use and contingency plans and zoning ordinances, and establishing early warning systems, and emergency management teams in high-risk areas.

Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Bill Tweddell said his country hopes that the aid for Nona victims will augment resources of the Philippine government.

 “The Australian Government and our people are concerned for families who sadly face difficult conditions over Christmas and New Year,” he said.

“We have a long legacy of cooperation and this assistance is part of Australia’s continued support to our friends in the Philippines.” – Rappler.com