Australia is home to around 300,000 Filipinos, 75,000 of which are students and workers while the rest are permanent migrants.
Bushfire may be common in Australia during the hot summer, but this particular one that has started since September has been one of the worst. It has reportedly burned almost 5 million hectares of land and ravaged almost 2,000 homes.
One of the affected areas is East Gippsland in Victoria which is about 360 kilometers east of Melbourne. About 300 Filipinos were evacuated as a result of this raging bushfires. The said evacuation is a precautionary measure following the 1500 houses damaged by the bushfire in the area, two of which belong to Filipino residents.
First Secretary and Consul General of the Philippine Embassy Aian Caringal reported that Philippine officials are already coordinating with local Australian officials in providing assistance on the evacuated Filipinos. In an interview with ANC, Caringal shared that Filipino evacuees are given temporary housing and emergency relief.
“The 300 Filipinos are already being attended to by the local government and have been given temporary housing and been given emergency relief.”
Caringal added that the Philippine embassy is ready to provide repatriation should our Filipino workers wish to leave Australia because of this calamity. “If there would be any request, we are ready to attend to the request and repatriate our Kababayan workers as soon as possible.”
So far, the embassy has not received any request for repatriation from Filipino workers in Australia. Meanwhile, Caringal advised Filipinos to continue monitoring the situation in their respective localities and keep a list of the contact numbers of Philippine embassies, consulates as well as local Filipino community organizations.
The Government of Australia has reported that this long-running crisis has also caused the death of 24 people. No Filipino was reported to be among the fatalities.