Red Cross steps up aid to 40,000
Zamboanga City — The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has stepped up its humanitarian aid to 40,000 people still displaced and housed in the different evacuation centers in this city, seven months after heavy fighting broke out in September 2013 between government forces and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) that lasted for 21 days.
Gareth Gleed, in charge of the ICRC’s activities in Zamboanga, said “Displaced people are still largely dependent on assistance from government and foreign and local aid organizations.”
Data from the local health office here indicated that malnutrition has resulted, with children dying from otherwise preventable diseases.
Supplemental feeding of children under the age of five and support to families with pregnant or lactating women are priorities in the drive to push down malnourishment rates, according to the same health data.
About 40,000 people, who lost homes and livelihood in the fighting, have received cash without conditions, Gleed said, giving them the freedom to invest in what they need most.
Cash-for-work schemes for about 1,200 displaced people are helping ensure that garbage is collected and disposed of at the Joaquin Enriquez stadium and along Cawa-Cawa shoreline, the ICRC observed.
“Our aim is to help those who have lost everything regain control of their lives,” Gleed said.
He also said that in different parts of the Philippines, thousands of people affected by fighting need humanitarian assistance.
In Zamboanga City and other parts of Mindanao and the Visayas, the ICRC is helping communities to recover and rebuild amid long-standing cycles of violence and poverty.