Progress noted in relocation of Zamboanga City refugees –ICRC

MANILA, July 3 (PNA) — Despite progress in relocating the number of people affected by the heavy fighting during the Zamboanga City siege last year, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has stressed that efforts must continue to ensure that these individuals are provided with basic services.

This was pointed out by ICRC Philippine delegation head Pascal Mauchle in a statement Thursday.

An estimated 40,000 people were displaced in the September 2013 fighting between the military and rogue members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

“Progress has been made in relocating a number of displaced people to transitional sites around the city. Nevertheless, efforts should continue to ensure that services such as water supply and sanitation are provided before moving people to these transitional sites, especially now with the start of the rainy season, which will put additional strain on an already vulnerable population,” she added.

Working with the Philippine Red Cross and in conjunction with the local water board, the ICRC is improving the sanitation and water supply in various evacuation centers and transitional sites.

In recent months, the organization has also sought to strengthen the resilience of the displaced community through cash-for-work schemes and unconditional cash grants, benefiting nearly 50,000 people.

In a bid to improve the overall health situation, the ICRC is refurbishing health stations damaged in the fighting and providing medicines, other supplies and technical and financial support to the local health authorities and the Zamboanga City Medical Center.

In May, the ICRC set up a nutrition program for malnourished children under five years of age and for pregnant and lactating women with a view to reducing the number of preventable deaths.

So far, 225 children and 32 women are being followed under this program. In addition, multipurpose halls are being built in three evacuation centers to carry out hygiene promotion, nutrition and health-care activities. (PNA)