By Roy Mabasa
The European Commission on Thursday announced a €2 million (roughly P126 million) humanitarian aid funding to provide life-saving assistance to those most in need in the conflict-prone southern Mindanao.
“Hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee their homes due to continued conflict in the Mindanao region. They left everything behind and are struggling to sustain their day-to-day lives,” European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides said.
The assistance, according to Stylianides, “underlines the EU’s solidarity with the people of the Philippines.”
“It will ensure that the most vulnerable have sufficient means to get through these difficult times,” he added.
In the statement issued by the EU Delegation to the Philippines, it noted that the ongoing violence in Mindanao has resulted in the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people, hampering the delivery of basic services and even livelihood.
“With access to basic services hampered and livelihoods disrupted, humanitarian needs in the region remain high. Most recently, fighting between government forces and armed groups have displaced over 50,000 people since the beginning of July,” according to the statement.
In an attached background sheet, the EU noted that the Mindanao conflict has been classified as a “forgotten crisis” by the European Commission’s department for Humanitarian Aid.
This, it said, is “due to insufficient media coverage and support from the international community, although the humanitarian needs in the region remain extremely high.”
Citing the latest data available, the EU said at least 500,000 people are currently in need of humanitarian assistance in the region, including the more than 270,000 displaced and some 100,000 out-of-school children.
Channeled through the European Commission’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO), the funding will help address the most pressing needs of the affected populations, both displaced families and members of host communities.
Also, the aid will focus on the provision of crucial support including food, shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene assistance, and emergency education, as well as increased protection of the impacted communities.
The EU has allocated over €117 million in emergency assistance to victims of conflict and natural disasters in the Philippines since it started its first humanitarian operations in 1996.