(2 years after the siege ) Displaced families in Zambo journey towards recovery PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 10 September 2015 13:59

Two years ago today, ACF International looks back on the siege in September 2013 and the continuing needs of over 17,000 internally displaced people remaining in transitional sites.

Despite the assistance provided to the displaced families two years later, needs are still high. Describing the situation in Zamboanga as an “almost forgotten crisis” Javad Amoozegar, ACF country director for the Philippines, said the hostilities on September 2013 left an unforgettable mark for the internally displaced people in Zamboanga.

“Since the conflict, the survival of the IDPs remains affected by crisis situation. Conditions are still difficult in the transitory sites. Water, electricity, health services, access roads are the most acute needs of families in transitional sites. No children and families should have to risk their lives in order to access life’s basic essentials for survival. The IDPs living in transitory shelters need support for them to get out of their situation, they still need assistance to rebuild their lives.” Amoozegar said.

Currently, 3031 families remain in different transitory sites and resettlement sites. A total of 265 deaths have been recorded since September 2015, 12 deaths attributed from undernutrition were documented from July to August 2015, eight of them were children under five.

In post conflict recovery phase since March 2015, ACF has stepped up its program by providing cash-based interventions to over a thousand families displaced by conflict in 2013 in this southern city of Zamboanga.

Victor Haliddan, who was among the thousands of people affected when armed men stormed the city on September 2013, shared that his family was thankful they were included in the life-saving scheme.

Haliddan is currently staying in the Buggoc transitory site along with his wife and children.

“The conflict was harsh, but surviving it inspired us to dream again. I’m really thankful help came. With ACF’s assistance we promise to improve our living conditions in any way we can. It’s very important to build back better,” he said

ACF is implementing programs on nutrition and health, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), food security and livelihoods (FSL), disaster risk reduction (DRR), and advocacy and governance that directly result to reduced vulnerabilities and increased resilience of displaced families.

ACF launched a customized cash transfer program in Zamboanga, with the generous support from the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), Foreign Affairs Trade and Development Canada (DFATD) and European Commission Humanitarian Aid (ECHO). The cash-based intervention currently provide support to over 1,035 families staying at different transitory sites for displaced families affected by the conflict, among them households with pregnant and lactating mother, single parent,  malnourished children, or with disabled and senior citizens and those with chronic illnesses.

Since the 1990’s, cash transfer programs have become an essential core element of ACF’s integrated approach in fighting hunger and malnutrition. Mostly facilitating food security and livelihoods, and water and sanitation activities for and with the community and participating households, ACF increased the coverage and scale of the scheme, since 2003 globally.

“To better respond to the daily needs of displaced people, we are reaching them through provision of food assistance, additional livelihood opportunities, and interventions that have direct impact to their health and nutrition,” Suresh Murugesu, technical coordinator for ACF.

“Capability building activities were conducted to ensure appropriate skills needed to sustain their livelihoods. Practical tools for life-saving responses and disaster preparedness were highlighted,” he added.

ACF has also been conscious on the program’s impacts on men and women by assessing the effect of cash transfer intervention on gender power relations. “Women were encouraged to lead income generating activities to meet their basic needs,” he added.

With funds from the UNICEF, ACF delivers clean water, established communal latrines and handwashing facilities, and provides hygiene and sanitation promotion to households, schools and day care centers.

In its range of support to the IDPs in Zamboanga, ACF is closely working with the City Government of Zamboanga, the Philippines Health Insurance (PhilHealth), JABU-JABU, Ateneo de Zamboanga University, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Education, Department of Social Welfare and Development for the delivery of various educational social and economic services designed for displaced families.

“With the generous support of our donors, ACF reaffirms its commitment to working with other humanitarian agencies in protecting and assisting all those displaced as they work to rebuild their lives in peace and dignity,” Amoozegar said.