Philippines: EC-funded program extends aid to evacuees, provides farm equipment, health centers to conflict-affected communities

Maguindanao -- A donor-funded government program has carried out his week a quick relief assistance to address the plight of civilian families affected by recent clashes between the government soldiers and suspected Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in parts of Maguindanao.
In collaboration with the Office of Civil Defense and Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council of Maguindanao, the European Commission (EC) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)-sponsored undertaking to rehabilitate internally displaced persons and communities in Southern Philippines (IDP Programme), organized on Tuesday simultaneous relief operations for evacuees in the towns of Talayan, Guindulungan, Datu Odin Sinsuat and South Upi in Maguindanao.

A sporadic encounter between elements of the Philippine Army's 6th Infantry Division and suspected ASG members two weeks ago in Sitio Badak, Barangay Tenaggos in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao resulted to the evacuation of over 1,000 families.

Food and non-food packages were extended to some 849 internally displaced families who are now taking temporary refuge in evacuation centers set up in various municipalities in Maguindanao.

Secretary Jesus Dureza, Chair of the Mindanao Economic Development Council (MEDCo) and National Program Director of the IDP Programme, led the distribution of five kilos of rice, half kilo of monggo and half kilo of salted fish to each of the 400 IDP families in Sitio Kitep, Brgy. Muti, Guindulungan town and 449 IDP families in Sitio Sumangkong and Quarry in Talayan town.

Dureza also turned over four sets of farm production equipment including hand tractors and turtle power tillers to 13 internally-displaced barangays in Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat as part of the IDP Programme's aim to facilitate the complete rehabilitation of the IDPs in the area. Palimbang town is one of the areas for rehabilitation after it suffered major conflict situation on December 2004.

Implemented under MEDCo, the IDP Programme targets the rehabilitation and resettlement of at least 10,000 displaced families in 15 provinces in the Autonomous Region of Muslims Mindanao (ARMM) and non-ARMM regions. The Programme carries out assistance pinned on three major components, such as relief assistance and confidence-building; rehabilitation; culture of peace and access to justice.

The Programme also intends to improve the condition of IDPs through provision of core shelters, potable water, sanitation facilities, health and nutrition, quick-gestating livelihoods, peace literacy and psycho-social programs. MEDCo