Attacks pose new challenge to relief work–NDRRMC
IN THE wake of Typhoon “Nona,” disaster officials are facing a new challenge: securing the safety of humanitarian workers from rebel attacks.
The task was brought up on Wednesday during an assessment meeting of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) response cluster on relief efforts for Nona at Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.
Over the past week, the Armed Forces of the Philippines witnessed two attacks by suspected communist New People’s Army members on relief delivery vehicles in Northern Samar, killing one soldier and injuring five.
“This is the first time we’ve encountered such atrocities in our humanitarian operations,” said Social Welfare Assistant Secretary Vilma Cabrera, who presided over the meeting.
The humanitarian workers present during the meeting wore black arm bands to express their indignation over the attacks.
“Our request or advice to our partners, if you are going down to the [typhoon-affected] areas, please inform the NDRRMC of your intended destinations… to ensure your safety and security,” Cabrera said.
Other challenges identified in the aftermath of Nona include: urgent repair of damaged houses and health facilities and restoration of power supplies; immediate assistance for farmers, especially in Central Luzon and Mindoro; ease in the delivery of aid to island municipalities; more shelter materials such as iron sheets, tarpaulins, hammers, umbrella nails, saws and nipa shingles; and speed up of the transportation of relief items from Metro Manila and from regional hubs to affected areas.
“In all the areas affected, the repair of damaged houses is the foremost requirement of families. They prefer to receive iron sheets, tarpaulins and roof shingles for repairs, instead of food packs,” Cabrera said.
“We also need urgent repair of health facilities. Services need to continue,” she said.
Cabrera said the agency has also received feedback from eastern Visayas that there are no suppliers of tarpaulins in Tacloban and Ormoc in Leyte, and Calbayog in Samar.
“We need help to identify, access suppliers in nearest areas. Maybe from Sorsogon, instead of all the way from Manila,” Cabrera said.
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