• UN provide $3M for displaced communities in Mindanao

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    The United Nations approved an additional $3 million as relief emergency fund for communities in Mindanao, which have been displaced by the recent fighting there between government forces and secessionist groups.

    The recent armed conflict that affected communities in southern Philippines has been exacerbated by the torrential rains over the past weeks, the statement from the United Nations on Wednesday said.

    “Conditions are overcrowded as people originally displaced by conflict who had returned home, are now returning to displacement sites as well as newly displaced flood victims,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.

    Over 117,000 people are now displaced in Zamboanga City and over 8,000 are displaced in the Basilan province, the UN relief arm added.

    The living conditions of the displaced communities further deteriorated with flooding in displacement sites as a result of rains the past four days with strong winds destroying plastic sheeting used as emergency shelter.

    “We carried out an assessment with the Office of Civil [Defense] and looked at the most immediate needs of the displaced people,” Luiza Carvalho, the resident and humanitarian coordinator, said.

    “We are requesting $24 million for the overall humanitarian operation and the CERF funding gives us the resources to scale up the response to support government line departments and local authorities,” Carvalho added.

    She was referring to the UN Central Emergency Response Fund or CERF.

    Carvalho also urged the international community to address the remaining $21 million gap needed to assist southern Mindanao in the aftermath of the clashes between government military forces and a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) led by former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Nur Misuari.

    Managed by OCHA, the CERF is one of the world’s largest sources of humanitarian funding.

    The emergency funding was allocated to UN agencies and partners to enable them to provide life-saving assistance.

    It will address the immediate needs of camp coordination and camp management, basic necessities such as water, hygiene and sanitation and protection.

    There is also part of the fund that will go to child protection and addressing gender-based violence in the camps, as well as health needs like reproductive health; logistics. Food and non-food items such as cooking utensils will also have a cut off the fund.

    “We have been working on the ground for a number of weeks now,” Carvalho said.

    “This visit has given me the opportunity to see the situation for myself and grasp the extent of the work ahead as well as the chance to witness the resilience of the affected communities, local authorities and NGO partners,” she added.

    This further heightens the communities’ burden and exposes them to the elements, which requires immediate and additional response from the authorities and humanitarian actors.

    The recent violence in Mindanao, particularly in Zamboanga City, resulted to the death of some 132 people. OCHA estimated that some 158,000 people have been affected by the violence and more than 10,000 homes have been destroyed.

    The humanitarian response is expected to last for up to six months, the statement said. BERNICE CAMILLE V. BAUZON

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