Stay and Deliver: Responding to COVID-19 in the Philippines

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Forcibly displaced families in Mindanao face added health and protection risks due to COVID-19. In times of crisis, UNHCR stays and delivers.

UNHCR Philippines, together with its donors and partners, is committed to stay and deliver life-saving aid as well as ensure that the protection of the most vulnerable internally displaced persons (IDPs) is at the center of the government’s COVID-19 response.

There are currently more than 370,000 individuals who are forcibly displaced in Mindanao as a result of persecution, conflict, and violence. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, fresh displacement is still taking place.

In times of crisis, UNHCR stays and delivers. We are working closely with the government and other partners to provide essential goods and services to forcibly displaced families.

Much has been done, but the work continues. Concerns on limited access to basic services and livelihood remain as needs and challenges, demanding provision of durable solutions. IDPs are living in overcrowded areas and social distancing is impossible to implement in such conditions. Moreover, the urgency in addressing violence against women and children across Mindanao, including women and children displaced, calls for prompt action and support from humanitarian actors and state agencies.

UNHCR Philippines, with your help, guidance from our government partners, and support from protection actors, relentlessly fulfills its commitment to continuously provide essential services to these forcibly displaced families, during and beyond this global health emergency.

Supporting Government Operations in Providing Essential Services to IDPs

Over the past few months, UNHCR has been supporting government operations to ensure that essential goods and services reach the most vulnerable forcibly displaced families at this time. UNHCR Philippines is closely coordinating with government authorities for the full inclusion of refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the national surveillance, preparedness, response plans and activities.

Provision of Equipment to Assist Government-Run Programs

In view of UNHCR’s steadfast commitment in providing services, protection mechanisms and humanitarian needs, the Mindanao Virtual Protection Coordination Platform (MVPCP) Meeting is spearheaded by UNHCR and Bangsamoro Government’s Ministry of Social Services and Development (BARMM MSSD), with full participation of key state agencies. Members of the MVPCP will work closely through teleworking modalities to ensure timely response to protection issues and implementation of key activities in Mindanao including BARMM region and facilitate timely information-sharing with the IDP community on health measures in response to COVID-19.

Distribution of Core Relief Items

UNHCR is making a concerted effort to secure delivery of essential personal protective equipment (PPE) for operations, primarily in its area of responsibility in Mindanao.

Community Level Health Awareness Raising

UNHCR and partners are also seeking to ensure that persons of concern are informed about COVID-19, receive WHO guidance on symptoms and preventative measures, and are aware of the steps to take if infection occurs. Translated Communicating with Communities (CwC) materials are shared across operations to enable widest possible coverage.

While responding to the COVID-19 crisis is a priority, ensuring the delivery of regular programmes to provide critical protection and life-saving support to UNHCR’s persons of concern in Mindanao continues to be a key priority.