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$1.8m boost in Australian aid for peace in Mindanao

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Foreign Minister Bob Carr and Minister for International Development Melissa Parke today announced Australia has granted an additional $1.8 million to support peace in Mindanao, southern Philippines.

‘Expanding our support for peace in Mindanao is a concrete statement of Australia’s concern for the poor of that long-suffering region, and our interest in the achievement of long-lasting peace,’ Senator Carr said.

Australia will give $1.3 million to the Mindanao Trust Fund to help improve livelihoods, health, and education in conflict-affected communities.

‘We commend the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front on their excellent progress towards peace. Australia is very proud to support their efforts. Peace is a pre-requisite for the development and poverty alleviation that is so sorely needed in this poverty-stricken part of the Philippines,’ Minister Parke said.

Australia will also provide $500,000 to the World Bank and UN to assist the Moro Islamic Liberation Front with training, policy advice and technical assistance to finalise the Bangsamoro Basic Law. This law will establish the new region of Bangsamoro, replacing the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. Australia’s support will strengthen law, justice and governance, and help out with transition programs for former combatants.

‘Australia shares the hope of the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that a peace agreement will end the decades-long conflict. We will continue to work with our partners and the people of Mindanao to ensure the benefits of peace are felt by all,’ Minister Parke said.

In recent years around half of Australia’s aid program in the Philippines has gone to Mindanao. Australian aid is introducing education opportunities in vulnerable and remote communities where school-based education has not been possible due to decades of ongoing conflicts.

In the past twelve months Australian aid has helped open over 400 Community Learning Centres, providing access to basic education to more than 11,000 children in Mindanao.

Australian aid is also boosting the ability of local communities and security forces in the southern Philippines to work together to better manage conflict situations, as well as bringing women’s voices into peace negotiations.

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