ZAMBOANGA CITY: The UN Special Rapporteur for Internally Displaced Persons praised the Zamboanga City government for its continuing efforts in protecting the welfare of IDPs following his recent visit to transitory sites here.
“The protection of IDPs is primarily a government responsibility, and so far, we have seen how the government of the Philippines is living up to this primary national responsibility,” Chaloka Beyani said.
Beyani acknowledged the ongoing rehabilitation and early recovery efforts being undertaken by the local government led by Mayor Beng Climaco. “So far, I see people who are working with commitment to resolve the issues,” he said after a meeting with the Local Inter-Agency Council.
The meeting was attended by Social Welfare Assistant Secretary Vilma Cabrera, local government department heads and representatives of national agencies, including humanitarian organizations.
Beyani visited the different transitory sites to assess the situation of the IDPs who are in temporary shelters while awaiting their return to their permanent homes.
While he has yet to complete his assessment rounds and reports, the UN Rapporteur acknowledged the efforts and initiatives that are currently in place which provide for both temporary and permanent solutions for the needs of IDPs.
“Construction work is going as it should. It shows there is planning in early recovery efforts, and adequate arrangements are being met, which should resolve the issue of IDPs in the near future,” he said.
He also noted that internal displacement is not an isolated case in the Philippines, but is a problem faced by other countries as well.
Hundreds of IDPs who were sheltered at the sports complex have been relocated to the transitory sites to allow repair of the facility which housed thousands of families affected by rebel attacks in 2013.
“The major recommendation is to immediately improve the conditions of the IDPs who have gone there from the Grandstand (sports complex). I think that is quite critical – obviously, the place is where they have been. I think they are happy to be in the place where they have been, but it is important that in doing so, the protection and assistance needs available to them ultimately should not be linked to their original situation of displacement,” Beyani said.
Mayor Climaco said: “During the siege, Grandstand was the haven for our displaced families. Now, as it rises again from the ground, it will be the symbol of a renewed hope of the entire Zamboangueño community. Plans are already in place to rehabilitate and improve the sports facility. We will build back better.”
Beyani is also set to visit IDPs in different regions affected by natural and man-made calamities, particularly in Maguindanao, Tacloban and South Cotabato.