64,000 displaced in Zambo siege still need support — UN PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 22 May 2014 11:42

Eight months after some 120,000 people fled their homes due to fighting between government forces and rebels of the MNLF Misuari in Zamboanga City, more than half of them remain displaced and in need of continued humanitarian support.

“Almost 17,000 people are still living in extremely difficult conditions in overcrowded evacuation centers with inadequate sanitation at the Cawa-Cawa shoreline and in and around Zamboanga’s nearby sports complex,” said the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the Philippines, Luiza Carvalho.

“These people remain most vulnerable to disease and exploitation, while other families now living in temporary housing in transition sites or being hosted by relatives or friends also require humanitarian support,” she said.

With more than 10,000 homes destroyed or damaged in the fighting on Sept. 9, Carvalho said, the Philippine government does not expect to complete the return or permanent relocation of the people still displaced within Zamboanga until mid-2015.

Humanitarian organizations have a critical role to play in the interim to help ensure that the displaced families continue receiving the support they need, she noted.

In consultation with local and national authorities, Carvalho said humanitarian agencies have revised their Zamboanga Action Plan to address the needs of the 64,600 displaced people through the end of August.

“Donor support for the emergency phase of the response helped to alleviate the worst suffering and save lives,” she said.

Carvalho explained that the USD 5.2 million that donors provided at the start of the crisis, including the USD 3 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund and USD 1.6 million from Japan, made it possible for humanitarians to provide urgently needed assistance, including food for almost 120,000 people in the first three months of the crisis.

Hundreds of latrines have been built as part of efforts to improve water and sanitation conditions in the evacuation centers and transition sites, while disease surveillance has helped to prevent outbreaks and healthcare has been provided, including through mobile teams.

However, Carvalho said, “very little funding has been received since October. Without more funds, humanitarians will not be able to implement the critical programming needed now to ensure the still fragile humanitarian situation for displaced people in Zamboanga improves rather than deteriorates.”

“We need an additional USD 7.4 million in funding to support families that lost everything. People who have suffered the dual trauma of conflict and the marginal life as a displaced person need help to obtain life’s basic necessities, to live again safely and in dignity and to recover the means to earn a living,” she said.