Minister Perez Highlights Extensive Damage from Wildfires in House Address

Minister Perez Highlights Extensive Damage from Wildfires in House Address

Minister Andre Perez, under his recently acquired portfolio of Disaster Risk Management, rose in the house today to speak on the recent wildfires in the west and the south.  His address began on the fluid statistics including that there are 250 families that have affected; several acres of farmlands have been destroyed and as recent as last night, two houses were burnt down in Blue Creek Village, Toledo.   These are only a few of the destruction that the wildfires have left in its wake. 

Abner Andre Perez, Minister of the Blue Economy and Disaster Risk Management: “Today there are still communities that remain at risk to these fires. As recently as I said lat night villagers in San Miguel, Silver Creek and Blue Creek were waging battles with the incessant flames. We have had reports of fires as far north as Altun Ha and as far west as in Benque Viejo. In the Mountain Pine Ridge over 10,000 hectares of forest have been affected by wildfires. That is approximately 34,000 acres of Pine Ridge. The initial DANA report is showing over $8 million dollars in damages estimated so far. The full extent of the impact on agriculture remains unassessed due to the continuous threat of wildfires and prevailing due to the unrelenting hot and dry weather conditions. Mr.Speaker the full impact will only be understood when we analyze not only the damages but also the losses that our people have suffered. This is the situation that we are dealing with today in Belize. Unprecedented fires appearing in parts of our country where they had never been an issue spreading rapidly in paths of destruction. Mr.Speaker I happened ot visit a part from the Toledo district in the villages this past weekend I visited the village of San Antonio in the Cayo district along with my colleague Honorable Balona and indeed the fire is a threat. Their water lines coming from up north was under threat for supplying a village of almost 5,000. So the village got together, although some minor damage on the pipes but because of this great collaborative work a disaster was avoided. But none the less the fires continue to rage. Mr.Speaker we’re all aware that our country is experiencing the impacts of climate change and the effects of course are clear to be seen on every highway in the country. Simply put fires have engulfed Belize and we are not alone as we are seeing our neighboring countries struggling with the same problem.”

Minister Perez expressed gratitude to various NGOs and Governmental units that have come to the rescue, including the residents that volunteer time and efforts in mitigating the effects.  The minister sounded the alarm to the public that threats across the country by Mother Nature are no longer limited to just June to November.  As a response from the government, five hundred thousand dollars have been allocated to the fight against the wildfires.

Abner Andre Perez, Minister of the Blue Economy and Disaster Risk Management: “These continue to cause significant damage to agricultural plots, property and wildlife. They have had economic, agriculture, ecological livelihood, psychosocial and biodiversity impacts. Unfortunately the operations are still active as the fire risk remains very high. As we speak communities in Toledo and Cayo alongside the BDF and other partners are on the fields continuing the battle against an unforgiving enemy which threatens to consume their homes and livelihoods. If this was not bad enough we’re facing a potentially very active hurricane season in just two days. Mr.Speaker what we are seeing here is the perception that we also have, June to November. Mr.Speaker we have to shatter that perception it’s not longer June to November we’re dealing with the fires two days away entering into the hurricane season. We must be alert and NEMO is very much in action right now even before the hurricane season. Also Mr.Speaker while sharing all of this is important that we have a government of the day that is very much intuned and I want to share with you all that for now we have allocated from the contingency funds of NEMO $500,000 right now to fight for the bush fire relief in down south and Cayo as well so that’s one that we’re doing a little to work along with the Red Cross also providing assistance as well. I want to thank as well the US government as well in assisting as well.”

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