PHILIPPINES: Mindanao aid plan underfunded
Thousands of returnees are in need of assistance
MANILA, 23 June 2011 (IRIN) - A US$34 million Humanitarian Action Plan (HAP) aimed at assisting more than 400,000 conflict displaced people return to their homes on the Philippine island of Mindanao, remains underfunded, says the UN.
“Unfortunately contributions to the existing HAP have been inadequate,” Jacqui Badcock, the UN humanitarian coordinator in Manila, told IRIN, prior to a major donor meeting in Geneva on 23 June involving more than 40 donor countries and agencies.
“I hope that this mid-year review will help to re-galvanize donor interest and generate increased financial support to meet the humanitarian needs of vulnerable people in the conflict and flood-affected provinces of Mindanao,” she added.
Launched in February, the HAP
aims to assist those who have returned to their homes in six of the island’s provinces following their displacement after clashes between government forces and the 12,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which has been fighting for an independent Islamic state in the southern Philippines for decades.
According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council
, more than 700,000 people were displaced after an August 2008 supreme court decision overruled a proposed deal that would have given MILF control over more than 700 towns and villages they consider their “ancestral domain”.
Of this number, most have since returned to their places of origin, aid workers say, with thousands now in need of livelihood and recovery assistance.
However, only two HAP projects (totalling just over $3 million and involving the World Food Programme and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization) out of 26 have received funding thus far, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, reports.
Asked to account for this, the European Union’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) - which supported the HAP process and provided eight million euros in 2009-2010 to assist victims of the conflict - said the situation had changed, but that they continued to remain engaged on the ground.
“In late 2010 ECHO concluded that it no longer needed to fund emergency humanitarian assistance as the level of fighting had ebbed off widely across the region leading to a drastic reduction in the number of IDPs [internally displaced persons],” Mathias Eick, ECHO regional information officer for East and Southeast Asia and the Pacific Region, said, noting however that the EU through its delegation in Manila had launched a four million euro multi-annual programme
, together with the UN Development Programme, to facilitate and assist the returnees.
The EU supports the Mindanao Trust Fund, as well as the International Monitoring Team
assisting the ongoing peace process
in Mindanao, he said.
“At the same time ECHO continues to monitor and assess the humanitarian situation in Mindanao, including the current needs related to the flooding, and will respond if appropriate, he added.