Philippines: DSWD continues to assist the internally displaced persons in Mindanao

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Social Welfare and Development Secretary Esperanza I. Cabral today said that the needs of all the internally displaced persons in Mindanao are being addressed.

To date, the DSWD has provided emergency relief assistance worth almost P70 million for the families who were caught in the armed clashes between the military and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the provinces of North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Saranggani and Sultan Kudarat in Central Mindanao; Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur in Northern Mindanao; Basilan, Maguindanao and Shariff Kabunsuan in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

According to Secretary Cabral, "aside from providing immediate relief assistance, DSWD social workers also provide supplemental feeding to some 23,627 children, zero to six years old in evacuation centers in Maguindanao, Shariff Kabunsuan, Lanao del Sur, North Cotabato and Lanao del Norte.

In the evacuation centers in Lanao del Norte, supplemental feeding was provided to some 126 pregnant and lactating mothers, while supervised neighborhood play sessions have been conducted to 326 children, six to 12 years old in the evacuation centers in Kolambugan, Munai and Tangkal.

At present, the staff of DSWD regional offices are conducting assessment of families who will return to their homes as part of the rehabilitation and early recovery phase for the IDPs.

"These efforts are spearheaded by the DSWD, the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC), in cooperation with other non-government organizations (NGOs). We are deeply concerned about the displaced civilians, they are our first priority," Secretary Cabral emphasized.

Further, in partnership with the Department of Education and TESDA, 50 recipients graduated from the massage therapy training program and 25 graduated from the Galing Mekaniko program; while in partnership with the Department of Health, some 470 evacuees and aid workers given stress debriefing sessions. Moreover, more than 11,800 children were given anti-measles immunization.

Meanwhile, 18 bunk houses were built in Maguindanao: 10 units in Datu Piang, 4 units in Datu Saudi Ampatuan, 2 units in Shariff Aguak, and 2 units in Mamasapano which are now being used as temporary shelter of the internally displaced persons.

"We strictly adhere to the directive of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to facilitate the needs of the victims of the armed conflict in Mindanao," Secretary Cabral disclosed.