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20,000 Zamboanga siege victims still in evacuation centers

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said over 20,000 people displaced by the Zamboanga siege are still in seven evacuation centers.

Of the 23,794 families or 118,819 persons affected by the armed conflict last September, 3,806 families or 20,038 persons are still staying in seven evacuation centers.

The evacuation centers are currently inside three camps located in Joaquin F. Enriquez Memorial Sports Complex, Cawa-Cawa, and Zamboanga City East Elementary School.

DSWD Secretary Corazon Soliman said the agency has established an endowment fund of P500,000 in Zamboanga City Medical Center to address the medical needs of the internally displaced persons (IDPs).

At present, a health center is being maintained at the Grandstand complete with medical personnel and ambulance to assist the families of IDPs.

Distribution of medicines and medical supplies is also regularly being done.

To ensure that children will not be traumatized by their experience in the armed conflict, psychosocial services for children are being provided in evacuation centers.

Meanwhile, at least 1,208 families composed of 6,508 persons were transferred in bunkhouses located in five existing transitional sites, namely: Grandstand bunkhouses, Tulungatong, Taluksangay, Rio Hondo, and Philippine Tuberculosis Society Inc., Upper Calarian, Zamboanga City.

Soliman said DSWD and International Organization Migration (IOM) are targeting the construction of five additional bunkhouses with a total of 60 rooms at Tulungatung and 30 single detached recovery shelters, adjacent to the permanent shelters to be constructed in Paniran. The target 171 families for permanent shelters are those temporarily sheltered at the Grandstand. While waiting for their permanent shelters to be completed, they will be housed in these single detached recovery shelters, she said.

Temporary transitional houses in Mampang and Arena Blanco for Sama-Bajaus will be constructed starting this month in partnership with IOM, targeting to accomplish 20 bunkhouses of 12 rooms each.

The first batch of IDPs that will be transferred is scheduled on April 15.