February 13, 2024 #ChileGlobal #SustainableChile

Fires in Chile: the key role of international solidarity

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Mexico and Bolivia have already contributed more than 95 tons of food and supplies for those affected in the Valparaiso region. Other countries have announced their intention to send aid in the coming days.

The international response has not been slow in coming. Last week, Mexico sent the first shipment of 26 tons of food supplies, including more than 2,000 boxes of food rations such as tuna cans and powdered milk. Bolivia contributed 70 tons of essential supplies, such as flour, rice, oil, sugar, noodles and water, over the weekend.

Cooperation between countries in the face of emergencies is a common practice in our modern history, but one that dates back several centuries. In a context where extreme weather events are becoming more frequent, it is an essential pillar in helping affected communities.

This is the situation that Valparaíso is going through today, facing one of the worst natural disasters in our country since the 2010 earthquake. The forest fires in the region, which have mainly affected the cities of Viña del Mar and Quilpué, have resulted in more than 130 deaths, the destruction of more than 150 hectares and 200 houses reduced to ashes.

In response, the international response has not been slow in coming. Last week, Mexico sent the first shipment of 26 tons of food supplies, including more than 2,000 boxes of food rations such as tuna cans and powdered milk. Bolivia contributed 70 tons of essential supplies, such as flour, rice, oil, sugar, noodles and water, over the weekend.

Two donations of firefighting material and safety equipment, such as hoses, boots, gloves and slaves, have already been made from the United States, which in mid-2023 reported almost 90 simultaneous fires, and other countries have shown their willingness to contribute with economic and material resources.

The importance of cooperation

Last year, Chile also suffered fire episodes, where countries such as Spain, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil and Venezuela contributed with different means to the fight against the fire, with teams of brigadiers, firefighters and specialists in the management of this type of emergencies.

For the 2010 earthquake, more than 30 countries provided humanitarian aid, in addition to multilateral entities such as the Organization of American States (OAS), the UN and the European Union. The health sector was one of the sectors that received the most international aid.

In previous situations, Chile has also been an active collaborator in emergencies in other countries. In November 2023, our country sent clothing to Bolivia to face the fires that hit the neighboring country, including helmets, fireproof pants and shirts, gloves, food rations, mineral water, among others.

Likewise, last year a contribution of US $200,000 was made to collaborate with humanitarian assistance for the civilian population in Gaza and the Palestinian territories affected by the armed confrontation in the region, and in March 2022, our country sent US $100,000 to Ukraine from the Chile Fund against Hunger and Poverty, to help in the context of the Russian invasion of that country.

Disaster relief

According to the Library of Congress, two types of aid can be distinguished: humanitarian aid from non-governmental groups and NGOs and direct aid from governments, both of which have their own guidelines and protocols for cooperation. 

Most countries deliver aid that is appropriate to their socio-economic context, their delivery capacity and the magnitude of the disaster. This has become more coordinated and systematic over time, encompassing crises ranging from natural disasters to armed conflicts, refugee crises, pandemics and other humanitarian emergencies. 

It is not only an expression of human solidarity but also an essential element for sustainable development, global stability, and the construction of a more resilient world prepared to face future crises.

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