The Japanese government approved an emergency grant aid of $2 million (approximately P84 million) to support relief operations for the displaced communities in southern Philippines, its embassy in Manila said Thursday.
This grant has been confirmed by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during his meeting with President Benigno Aquino 3rd on October 9.
The grant will be coursed through the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) and the World Food Program (WFP).
The fund will mostly go to the relief operations concerning food, water and sanitation.
On September 9, violent clashes between the Philippine government forces and the Nur Misuari-led faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) ensued after the rebel group seized control of about six towns in Zamboanga City.
This is in retaliation against the government for pursuing a peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), also a renegade faction of the MNLF. Members of the MNLF, particularly the group led by Misuari, felt they are excluded from the said peace pact.
The conflict ended on September 27, but the international community has voiced their concerns on the rising number of displaced communities as well as the civilians affected by the dispute.
According to official records, some 120,000 people have been displaced by the ordeal while, 132 people died and 10,000 homes destroyed. The violence in Zamboanga City also spread to the nearby province of Basilan where some 8,000 people were also believed to be displaced.
“In response to the request from the Philippine government and UN’s call for support, and taking into consideration the bilateral friendship and cooperation based on the Japan-Philippines strategic partnership, the government of Japan will extend the emergency grant aid,” the statement from the embassy said.
On Wednesday, the United Nations approved an additional $3-million relief emergency fund for the displaced communities in Mindanao.
An assessment, however, showed that the region needed at least $24 million for overall humanitarian operations. The UN urged the international community to fill the $21-million gap. BERNICE CAMILLE V. BAUZON