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Those displaced by eruption in urgent need

LEGAZPI (Agencies): Bishop Joel Baylon of Legazpi said providing food for 84,000 people has become a “tall order” especially because of the constant threat posed by the erupting Mayon Volcano, UCAN reported on February 6.
The bishop said that Church leaders and government officials have been cooperating closely over the past few days to provide for the needs of displaced residents.
“Most evacuees are farmers and do not have anything to augment their needs except for whatever relief goods they get from aid agencies,” he said.
Bishop Baylon explained that the Church could only provide basic requirements, such as food, to families affected by Mount Mayon.
He said that feeding the people the same food every day “will not be good,” adding that the evacuees have been surviving on noodles, sardines, and other canned goods and dried fish in the past weeks.
Bishop Baylon said the diocese has started a micro-finance project for farmers in the area who plant and engage in agribusiness activities. The produce will then be distributed to displaced families identified by the diocese.
He described the strategy as a win-win programme for producers and the displaced people.
“The Catholic Church in Legazpi will continue to do its share to help,” said Bishop Baylon.
Meanwhile CBCPNews reported Caritas Philippines as saying that there is an urgent need for temporary shelters as more families are expected to arrive at evacuation centres set up across Albay province.
“If congestion will continue in the evacuation centres, not only will diseases spread, protection and security of women and children may also be a problem,” Caritas national director, Archbishop Rolando Tria Tirona, said.
Caritas will be constructing tents and provide dignified temporary shelters to at least 500 families.
The archbishop also asked the local government and the Church to use available open spaces as temporary shelter for those displaced by the calamity.
As of the latest estimates, the number of evacuees has already swelled to nearly 90,000.
“Communal water and sanitation facilities will be the counterpart of other partners while labour will be from the Department of Labour and Employment’s cash-for-work programme,” he added.
Caritas Philippines said donations may be deposited to the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) branch in Intramuros, Manila under account name, CBCP Caritas Filipinas Foundation, Inc, account number 4951-0071-08.
As at February 4, Mount Mayon continued to spew lava, including a 500-metre high ash cloud.
A total of 55 volcanic earthquakes and nine rockfalls had been recorded by the government’s seismic monitoring network.

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