More than 15,000 families have lost their homes and livelihoods in armed conflict areas in the Bangsamoro region in recent months. While most people are asked to stay at home to avoid exposure to the coronavirus, some were forced to flee their homes to save their lives.
No one should ever be forced to choose between exposure to the virus and violence.
Oxfam is one with civil society organizations and humanitarian agencies in calling for the immediate end of violence and hostilities in the Bangsamoro region, including those in Sulu, Basilan, and Tawi-tawi, where armed conflicts happen.
We show our utmost support to the call for just and lasting peace and for genuine people’s participation in conflict resolution and management in the Bangsamoro region.
Oxfam and partners in partnership with the government have been providing life-saving support to families displaced by the armed conflict with food, water, sleeping materials, hygiene kits, and psychological first aid.
Now is the time to bridge the gaps and underlying causes that perpetuate violence in the region. We must build comprehensive structures and mechanisms, such as a multi-sectoral monitoring team in the communities that will promote peace dialogues among parties involved in armed conflicts.
We support the creation of safe and brave spaces for peace synergies where various organizations engaged in peace-building efforts can come and work together to find common solutions that will address the root causes of poverty and violence in the region.
We also support the call for government initiatives that will contribute to the economic growth and long-term development of armed conflict areas. We need to build back confidence alongside peacebuilding if we want to address the underlying causes of the armed conflict. Our experience in cash programming has shown us that using digital financial services will help improve the welfare of affected communities, hasten the delivery of social services, and boost local economies.
A “better normal” for the Bangsamoro region can only be achieved when we stop the use of violence in resolving conflicts, and ensure that the most affected communities, especially our women and girls are part of all actions and decisions that affect them.
A better future means lasting peace for everyone.
Kristine Sabillo Guerrero
Senior Officer for Media and Digital Influencing, Oxfam Pilipinas