Massive relief operation launched in conflict-wracked Basilan towns PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 14 July 2016 13:29

The provincial government of Basilan has embarked on a relief operation for 2, 311 families displaced by the continued military offensive against the Abu Sayyaf in three municipalities.

The relief operation comes following a resolution passed by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan declaring the province under a state of calamity amid a series of gunbattles between government troops and the ISIS-linked group in Tipo-Tipo, Ungkaya Pukan and Albarka.

No less than Basilan Governor Jim Hataman Salliman ordered the province’s disaster council to recommend to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to pass the resolution in order to start the relief assistance to the affected families.

The declaration of the state of calamity was not only based on the skirmishes in the three municipalities but also in relation to  efforts to contain and eradicatethe Coconut Scale Infestation in the province.

Mr. Uso Dan Salasim, Provincial Administrator, on Tuesday conducted an emergency relief operation for the IDPs in the affected municipalities.

Initially, food stuff and food items were distributed to more than 2,000 affected families.

The Emergency Relief Operation undertaken on July 12,  in the municipalities of Tipo-Tipo, Al-Barka and Ungkaya Pukan, was the first ever made by an LGU since the beginning of the conflict.

The provincial governor has made it clear that the relief operation will continue until the fighting stops. He also ordered the heads of the different departments to prepare for the rehabilitation and recovery of the internally displaced persons to help them get back to their normal lives and livelihood.

The conflict started when of Abu Sayyaf militants attacked the town of Tipo-Tipo with the intent of overrunning the military camp in the area.

In an attempt to drive the attackers away, the military staged a counter operation and pursued the militants with artillery shelling and airsrikes escalating the conflict in the neighboring municipalities of Ungakaya Pukan and Al-Barka.

As of press time, the military operation continued. It has displaced 2,311 families with the combined dependents numbering 11,616, placing the total number of evacuees to 13,927.

Alton Angeles, provincial information officer, told newsmen that despite of the fighting in the three municipalities, the situation remains under control by the government. – Dan Toribio