City gov’t slams reports of hiding IDPs PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 11 August 2015 11:27

By JASMINE MOHAMMADSALI

The City Government on Monday, August 10, categorically refuted reports alleging that internally displaced persons (IDPs) were hidden away during the visit of United Nations (UN) Rapporteur last July.

“There is no truth to the information given out that we tried to hide IDPs from the UN Rapporteur,” said Temporary Shelter Lead and City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Officer Elmeir Apolinario, who is the temporary shelter cluster head.

Mayor Beng Climaco, for her part, declared the local government has always put the well-being and welfare of IDPs at the forefront of its priorities, from the start of the siege almost two years ago to the rehabilitation efforts that are currently ongoing.

“If you ask me as Mayor of Zamboanga, not only did we apply mercy and compassion, but we tried to ensure durable solutions will be given to the IDPs by putting above all their immediate need for shelter that must be dignified,” she said.

Addressing the allegations which were published by a national newspaper point by point, Apolinario said the UN Rapporteur was aware of the transfer of IDPs and the issues revolving around their temporary stay in Lupa-lupa as these were discussed during his exit conference.

The UN Rapporteur expressed his concerns on the water, light, and shelter needs of the IDPs in Lupa-lupa which, Apolinario said, were duly noted and immediately acted upon by the local government.

The UN Rapporteur for IDPs Chaloka Beyani visited Zamboanga City July 23 to look into the situation of IDPs. Aside from Zamboanga, Beyani likewise visited other areas in the country which were affected by natural and man-made calamities, particularly in Maguindanao, Tacloban, South Cotabato.

During his visit, Beyani acknowledged the ongoing rehabilitation and early recovery efforts being undertaken by the local government but likewise pressed for immediate action to improve the living condition of IDPs who moved to Lupa-lupa from the Grandstand.

Aside from the fact that the Grandstand was no longer conducive as a shelter site and required extensive rehabilitation, Apolinario emphasized the transfer from Grandstand to Lupa-lupa was carried out with adequate consultations and preparations, and at the insistence of the leaders, barangay chairs, and IDPs.

“We never do things without coordination” he said.

He likewise noted that the timeline for the transfer, which was deferred several times in consideration of the requests and needs of IDPs, has already been planned as early as March 2015, way before the UN Rapporteur decided to visit the City.

“There was no forced movement, there was no intimidation on the part of the government. Everything was done properly in coordination with humanitarian partners,” Apolinario declared empathically. — Jasmine Mohammadsali