SENATOR Nancy Binay on Sunday appealed to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to urgently act on the plight of refugees in Zamboanga City, citing in particular reports of prostitution inside evacuation centers.
Binay expressed concern over reports that female evacuees are forced to engage in prostitution in the absence of opportunity and livelihood.
Binay said the DSWD should immediately look into the report and address the situation since it is the agency that is in charge of the relief operation in the area.
“I am appealing to the DSWD to ensure the basic needs of those displaced by the conflict and to strengthen their operations in the area,” Binay said.
She cited the statement of Shallom Allian, program manager of the non-governmental organization Nisa Ul Haqq Bangsamoro, who was quoted in a news report as saying that women were forced to engage in prostitution for as low as P25 to as high as P300 in order to survive.
Prostitution is said to be rife inside the Joaquin F. Enriquez Memorial Sports Complex as well as in tent brothels along Cawa-Cawa Boulevard. Seven months after the siege in Zamboanga City, no transition sites have been prepared for the evacuees nor are there decent jobs available for them.
Aside from prostitution, the number of deaths inside Zamboanga evacuation centers has risen to 109.
Binay had earlier filed a resolution asking the Senate to look into the reported death of children inside evacuation centers in Zamboanga City.
Based on reports she obtained, 88 internally displaced persons have died inside evacuation camps, including 44 children ages below 5 years old and 20 persons aged 60 years and above.
“The health of families, especially those of the vulnerable—children and the elderly—must be continuously monitored and evaluated by the authorities,” Binay said.
Also monitored as of November 2013 are cases of acute respiratory infection (14,467), 4,649 (fever), 3,136 (acute water diarrhea), 1,262 (skin diseases) and 1,075 (high blood pressure). There were also 23 cases of dengue as of January 2014.
About 25,000 evacuees are currently staying in different temporary shelters in Zamboanga City.