EU steps up assistance to displaced people in Zamboanga

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The European Union is increasing its assistance to the victims of the conflict which took place in Zamboanga last year by a further PHP 14.8 million (€ 250 000) bringing the total humanitarian assistance provided by the EU so far to PHP 32.56 million (€ 550 000).

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This funding is being made available through the European Union’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) for a project to be implemented by a consortium of aid organisations, led by the Spanish NGO “Acción Contra el Hambre” (ACF-Spain) including IOM and PLAN- International.

“Our decision to provide further assistance to the displaced is based on a recent assessment mission to Zamboanga,” said EU Ambassador Guy Ledoux of the Delegation of the European Union to the Philippines.

“We found that eight months after the crisis, some 3,800 families are still living in very difficult conditions. Our assistance aims at assisting at least 1,500 of the most vulnerable people and providing relief until the authorities can provide a more permanent solution for the displaced,” he said.

The main objectives of the 6-month project will be to de-congest the overcrowded Emergency Centres by assisting in the transfer of 300 families to transitional sites where they will receive material to build new shelters. In addition, the consortium will improve access to water and introduce a sanitation and hygiene program. The threat of water-borne diseases will be addressed through the construction of more sanitation facilities and the disludging of septic tanks. Proper hygiene and sanitation practices will also be promoted amongst the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) through the establishment of water and sanitation committees, Ambassador Ledoux said.

Moreover, acute malnutrition treatment will be p.ovided to children under 5 years as well as pregnant and lactating women in order to reduce the relatively high malnutrition rates, he said

According to local authorities some 40% of the IDPs are children. Some 9,000 children have no access to regular schooling making them susceptible to abuse, neglect and violence. The project will establish Youth-Friendly Spaces and raise awareness amongst the IDPs of the dangers of human trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and minors, he added.

Background:

On 9 September 2013, a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) seized hostages in Zamboanga. This armed incursion was met by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, which sought to free the hostages and expel the MNLF from the city. The ensuing clashes lasted for more than two weeks and left some 45 dead and over 100,000 people displaced in Zamboanga City. The fighting also resulted in a fire which swept through a densely populated area of Zamboanga destroying some 10,000 homes. PNA

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