COTABATO CITY, Maguindanao: A fund drive for the internally displaced persons (IDPs) staying at different evacuation centers in Maguindanao has been going on since Friday after it was launched by the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) purposely to gather donations in cash and in kind.
Executive Director Amir Mawallil of the ARMM’s Bureau of Public Information disclosed that the military operation that started on February 25 has escalated to 13 towns in the province, forcing 19, 075 civilian families or 93,402 individuals to take refuge in evacuation centers.
Mawallil, quoting the report of the ARMM Department of Education, also said that the military offensive has disrupted classes in 42 schools, affecting the education of at least 16,000 elementary and secondary students.
As this developed, Gov. Mujiv Hataman of ARRM said they continue to respond to the needs of the displaced families while underscoring the call for peace.
The “Tabang Sibilyan, Isulong ang Kapayapaan” relief and peace advocacy campaign of the region aims to provide food and medical assistance to the evacuees and rally support for the continuation of the Mindanao peace process, Hataman said.
He said the ARMM spends at least P12 million a week on food packs for the evacuees. The amount does not include the cost of other forms of assistance and logistics, he added.
ARMM Deputy Executive Secretary John Louie Balagot said the existing funds of the region will not be able to keep up with the rising number of evacuees.
The donation drive, he said, will help augment the resources of the regional government and raise awareness on the plight of civilians in the ongoing conflict in Maguindanao.
He added that it also aims to centralize donations intended for the IDPs.
A donation booth has been installed in front of the Office of the Bangsamoro People inside the ARMM compound here in this city to accept donations in cash or in kind. The booth operates daily from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Balagot said the regional government is asking the public and different institutions to donate food and clothing for the IDPs.
Cash and other forms of donations are also welcome, he added.