LIST: Countries offer aid amid Taal Volcano eruption

Sofia Tomacruz
LIST: Countries offer aid amid Taal Volcano eruption
(6th UPDATE) Foreign countries offer aid for affected communities as the Taal Volcano unrest persists

MANILA, Philippines (6th UPDATE) – Foreign countries have started to send aid to communities affected by the ongoing eruption of the Taal Volcano, which remained on Alert Level 3 with unrest far from over on Wednesday, Janaury 29.

Here are the countries that have announced aid so far. (This list will be updated as reports come in.)

United States

The US Embassy Manila announced that the United States Geological Survey’s Voclano Disaster Assistance Program (USGS VDAP) was providing equipment and remote technical assistance to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology to monitor the Taal Volacano eruption.

 

According to Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Brigido Dulay, the USGS VDAP’s assistance included providing “remote imagery and geodetic sensing data to assess the current activity and additional information on potential future eruptive activity.”

Remote sensing staff, he added, also tasked all its available satellite sources to monitor Taal Volcano “as the highest priority.” Apart from this, the USGS provided Phivolcs with an infrared camera and infrared monitoring equipment to help assess volcanic activity.

“A friend in need is a friend indeed,” Dulay tweeted on Wednesday night, January 15.

VDAP earlier aided the Philippines during the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo. Together with Phivolcs, it installed “monitoring networks and estimated the potential for a cataclysmic eruption.” The efforts led to the evacuations of nearby towns and villages, which saved “more than 5,000 lives and $250 million in property,” VDAP said.

The US also donated $100,000 or P5.1 million in government support to individuals affected by the Taal Volcano eruption. On Wednesday, January 22, US Ambassador to the Philippine Sung Kim joined the Philippines Disaster Resilience Foundation in distributing supplies to evacuees in Calatagan town.

 

The US embassy said the support, which was coursed through the U.S. Agency for International Development partner World Vision, would provide for relief supplies – like soap, sleeping mats, and blankets – to nearly 7,600 people in the Nasugbu West Central School evacuation center in Batangas.

“I’m inspired by the strength and resilience of these families who faced such devastation and loss following the volcanic eruption. As friends, partners, and allies to the Philippines, we will continue to support our Philippine government counterparts as they work to address the needs of those communities most affected by the eruption,” Kim said.

South Korea

On Thursday, January 16, South Korea pledged to offer through the Philippine Red Cross $200,000 (P10,175,100) in humanitarian aid to victims of the Taal Volcano eruption.

“Through the swift provision of relief goods to those who are in evacuation centers due to the volcanic eruption, we hope this aid will contribute to the stabilization of the victims’ lives,” Seoul said in a press statementcited in a Yonhap News Agency report.

China

The Chinese Embassy in Manila on Friday, January 17, donated face masks to affected residents in Batangas. 

The ongoing unrest of the Taal Volcano started on Sunday, January 12. Over 77,000 people have been displaced as of Friday. (READ: Taal Volcano’s 2020 eruption: What we know so far)

So far, Batangas and Cavite were among the areas most affected by Taal’s eruption, with the entire provinces placed under a state of calamity. Thousands of evacuees expressed concern about what would happen to them, their homes, and their livelihood.

On Wednesday, January 22, the Chinese embassy announced that Huang turned over to Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Enrique Manalo over one million RMB or some P7.5 million for relief and rehabilitation of affected areas.

“Huang said that the Chinese side looks forward to lending more strength to the disaster relief efforts on the Philippine side to overcome difficulties and help the affected people restore their normal livelihood at an earliest date,” the Chinese embassy said in a statement on Thursday, January 23.

 

 

On Sunday, February 2, the Department of Finance (DOF) said the Chinese government also pledged to donate RMB 1 million  (P7.2 million) to assist ongoing disaster relief efforts for residents affected by the eruption of Taal Volcano.

The DOF said China, through its embassy in Manila, was “looking forward to handing over the…donation as soon as possible.”      

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III thanked the Chinese embassy for its donation.    

“We thank the People’s Republic of China for its donation, which is just one of the many it has provided to the Philippines to help victims of calamities. This concrete expression of sympathy and support to our countrymen further strengthens our bilateral ties and reflects the warm relations between our two countries,” Dominguez said in a statement. 

Japan

On Thursday, January 23, the Japan Information and Culture Center (JICC) said the Japanese government, through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), donated anti-dust respirators to residents affected by the Taal Volcano eruption.

“As a volcanic country like the Philippines, Japan has repeatedly experienced hardship caused by volcanic activities in its history. We are in solidarity with the people of the Philippines in facing this challenge,” JICC said in a statement.

JICA also announced it was working with the Philippines’ Office of Civil Defense (OCD) and attached agencies of the Department of Science and Technology to aid in “improving the planning, implementation, and monitoring systems” of regional and local disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) plans.

This is in line with its ongoing cooperation established with the OCD in 2019, where JICA and local government units developed guidelines for regional and local hazard risk information, crafted plans based on disaster risk information “to reduce human and economic losses,” trained disaster management personnel, and improved information management systems for disaster response.

According to JICA, the second phase of the project will take place in Calabarzon and Central Luzon – areas that were among the worst hit by the ongoing eruption of Taal Volcano and Typhoon Ursula, respectively.

“Like Japan, the Philippines is also vulnerable to disasters. This is also why part of our development assistance to the Philippines covers sharing Japan’s expertise and experiences in disaster management…. Our experiences teach us that there’s still room to improve the DRRM system of our countries,” JICA Philippines Senior Representative Ayumu Ohshima said. 

On Wednesday, January 29, Japanese Chargé d’Affaires Yamamoto Yasushi signed a deed of donation with Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista for in-kind relief assistance that included the following:

  • 10,000 N95 Masks
  • 5,500 5-gallon portable water [containers]
  • 5,000 portable jerry cans
  • 5 sets of generators and cord reels

“As a volcanic country like the Philippines, Japan has repeatedly experienced hardships caused by volcanic activities in its history. Japan is in solidarity with the people of the Philippines in facing the challenges posed by the Taal eruption,” the Japanese embassy said in a statement on Wednesday.

The donation will be coursed through JICA.

European Union

The European Union (EU) announced on Friday, January 31, it would provide €750,000 in humanitarian assistance to individuals most affected by Taal Volcano’s eruption.

The funding will be coursed through the Spanish Red Cross and will provide emergency shelter; essential household items like mats and blankets, hygiene kits, and access to clean water. Apart from this, psychosocial support and child protection activities will also be provided.

“The EU stands ready to support the people of the Philippines and ensure affected people get protection and have enough means to survive through this difficult time and get back to their feet at the earliest possible,” EU Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič said in a statement.

The funding is part of the EU’s Acute Large Emergency Response Tool, which is used to respond to large natural disasters where over 100,000 people or over 50% of the population is affected. The programs aims to allocate funds 24 to 48 hours after the onset of emergencies. – Rappler.com

*$1 = P50.88

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Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.