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Editorial | Environmentally displaced

Taal Volcano continues to spew ash and trigger volcanic earthquakes according to Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology chief Renato Solidum yesterday. It is still Alert level 4 or “Intense Unrest,” – the risk benchmark of Phivolcs.

For the thousands of families fleeing their homes for safety, life will not be the same again. In the evacuation centers were most of them are sheltered, they have to rely on the efficiency of the local government and government agencies, as well as the kindness of people to make it through the day. The difficulties faced by the families in evacuation centers are unspeakable.

Most of them were only able to bring the most basic of clothing and items that they were able to snatch while hastily leaving their homes. This is not to mention the mental torment they suffer knowing that their farm, animals, and properties might be lost forever.

As we read and see the plight of the victims of the Taal Volcano eruption on various media platforms, right on our own doorstep, we still have evacuees who were displaced by the series of quakes that rocked Cotabato and Davao region last December. The combined number of people displaced by natural calamities in the country today would be alarming.

They are called environmentally displaced people as they are “impelled or induced to migrate because their livelihoods are rendered unsustainable by proliferating natural disasters or the irreversible degradation of environmental resources resulting from the slow-onset impacts of rising sea levels and desertification, “ as defined by the Refugee Studies Center in Oxford.

Their lives have been drastically changed by forces of nature. It cannot be over emphasized that we are all so puny and helpless in the face of earthquakes, volcanic eruption, super typhoons, landslides and other natural calamities. But we can mitigate the risks to life and properties with proper and efficient implementation of our risk reduction management strategies.

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