THE United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has allotted US$3 million to assist displaced people of Zamboanga City to recover from the recent armed conflict between government troops and the Nur Misuari-led Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
CERF funding was allocated to United Nations (UN) agencies and International Organization for Migration (IOM) to enable them to quickly respond on the ground to provide life-saving assistance.
“We carried out an assessment with the Office of Civil Defense and looked at the most immediate needs of the displaced people of Zamboanga City,” Luiza Carvalho, UN 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.”
There are more than 117,000 displaced in Zamboanga City and over 8,000 displaced in Basilan province. The CERF funding will address the immediate needs of camp coordination and camp management; water, hygiene and sanitation; protection including child protection and gender-based violence; health including reproductive health; logistics; and food and non-food items such as cooking utensils.
“The CERF funding will scale-up the response,” Carvalho said. “We now need generous donor support to address the $21 million gap.”
The request also includes projects such as education, early recovery and livelihood and addresses some of the needs of the over 10,000 families whose homes were destroyed.
The humanitarian response is expected to last for up to six months.
“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 nongovernment organizations partners.”
The UN official said the living conditions of the displaced communities in Zamboanga City further deteriorated with flooding in displacement sites across the city as a result of torrential rains over the past four days.
“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,” Carvalho said. “Strong winds destroyed plastic sheeting used by families as emergency shelter. This further heightens the communities’ burden and exposes them to the elements, which requires immediate and additional response from the authorities and humanitarian actors.” NEIL A. ALCOBER