Saturday, February 5, 2011

$4.9M aid sought for 450,000 conflict-displaced Mindanao folk

Some 450,000 people displaced by fighting in Mindanao stand to benefit from a $4.9-million appeal for aid by an international group.

According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) which made the appeal, the amount will help the families rebuild their lives.

"Projects in the appeal include the construction of essential water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities; the refurbishment of critical health facilities; the provision of emergency shelter and kits to help people to restart their livelihoods; and the upgrading of basic community facilities," the IOM said in a news release posted Friday night on its website.

IOM explained that the appeal is part of a $34.5-million, one-year United Nations Humanitarian Action Plan (HAP) for Conflict-Affected Areas in Mindanao launched in Manila last Wednesday.

The plan targets nearly 450,000 people in the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Lanao del Norte.

IOM's appeal focuses on helping internally displaced persons and vulnerable families who have returned to their often devastated towns and villages.

The appeal also aims to strengthen information mechanisms to coordinate the work of aid agencies.

"This funding will allow us to continue to fulfill our role as the co-lead of the Camp Coordination and Camp Management Cluster (of aid agencies) in Mindanao and to provide essential assistance to vulnerable families who have returned home and are trying to restart their lives and livelihoods," IOM Philippines Chief of Mission Ovais Sarmad was quoted as saying.

"IOM is committed to working in close coordination with the government and our partner agencies to ensure that aid reaches the people who need it most in the most efficient way possible, without gaps or duplication," he added.

The IOM's programme to help vulnerable, conflict-affected families in Mindanao —which is already funded by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Department (ECHO), the UN Central Emergency Fund (CERF) and the Spanish Agency for International Development (AECID)— was launched in 2008 following the displacement of some 750,000 people due to intensified clashes between the Philippine military and elements of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Working with the Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), IOM mobilized teams to assess the needs of displaced families, opening three offices in Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur and Sultan Kudarat.

It also constructed water and sanitation facilities in some 50 evacuation centres in Cotabato and Maguindanao.

IOM subsequently distributed essential non-food relief items over 50,000 families, shelter repair materials to nearly 26,000 families and hygiene kits to nearly 11,000 families.

Also, it constructed another 773 WASH facilities and 90 community centers, as well as developing a humanitarian assistance tracking system to optimize aid distribution. — TJD, GMA News Online

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